Tigers fall to Dove Creek in home opener | SteamboatToday.com

Tigers fall to Dove Creek in home opener

Hayden seniors Brayden Dale and Owen Miller celebrate in the end zone after Dale ran for a touchdown in Hayden's home opener against Dove Creek on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

A clash of undefeated football teams ran under Hayden’s Friday night lights on Sept. 16. The Tigers welcomed the Dove Creek Bulldogs for their 2022 home opener with one team’s perfect record on the line. 

It was the Tigers that fell behind early and were unable to claw their way back into the game, losing 48-26. 

Head coach Matt Linsacum thought the boys had improved regardless of the loss and believes they will come out stronger in the coming weeks. 

“It’s a learning opportunity for us,” Linsacum said. “There was some growth that happened there and you focus on the positives. It’s easy to focus on the negatives but we got better as a team there and like the other coaches said, a good team will expose those little things we are not doing right.”

In an opening half seemingly dominated by the visiting Bulldogs, Hayden was able to keep the game close with a late touchdown off the legs of Tiger quarterback, Brayden Dale, who closed the gap making it a 26-20 ballgame. 

Two early Dove Creek touchdowns in the third quarter, including a pick-six, wiped away the work the Tigers had put in to close out the first half. 

Hayden refused to quit and though they had work to do, the boys were willing to fight until the very end. 

“We just gotta play,” senior Kodi Ingols said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is, you just gotta keep going. Everyone gets down at times but we have a saying that you gotta be like a goldfish and have a short-term memory and move on.”

Senior Kodi Ingols brings a Dove Creek ball carrier to the ground in a Hayden football game on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Dale kept the game alive again for Hayden returning a kick-off for a touchdown with just over six minutes to play in the third quarter making it 40-26, but it would not be enough to spark a Tiger comeback. 

Dove Creek strung together a solid three minute drive to once again pull ahead by three scores. That would be the last time either team found the endzone. 

The fourth quarter featured messy ball protection with each side turning the ball over twice. 

Ingols intercepted a Bulldog pass on Hayden’s goal line to halt Dove Creek’s momentum. Not long after, senior Cody Hawn forced a strip fumble to give the Tigers one last offensive possession. 

Senior receiver Owen Miller pulls the ball in for a completed catch up the middle in a Hayden football game against Dove Creek on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

That drive ended with a Dove Creek interception to close out the game, giving Hayden its first loss of the year.

“We know our ability, and tonight we didn’t get to showcase all of it,” Ingols said. “It was a tough team, so we just gotta go forward and show everyone else what we can do.”

The Tigers now sit with a 2-1 record on the season as they begin preparations for an away matchup against Dayspring Christian Academy. 

“We’ll go back and have a good film session on Monday and Tuesday and learn from our mistakes and work on getting better,” Linsacum said. “It’s early in the season, we came out healthy so that’s a win for us. Just gotta focus on the little things.”

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