As historic as the Bayfield High School defense has been since the team's reign of Class 2A dominance began in 2015, it was the defense of the Class 3A Durango Demons and the high-powered offense behind sophomore quarterback Jordan Woolverton and senior running back Dawson Marcum that stole the show Sept. 14 in the inaugural Vallecito Bowl. The Demons roared to an 18-0 halftime lead against the defending state champion Wolverines.
Durango (2-2) kept up the pressure in the second half on the way to a 32-16 victory at home Friday night against its La Plata County rival Bayfield (3-1).
"Durango is a great team," BHS senior Keyon Prior said. "They came out and executed. They jumped on us the first half and the third quarter, and we didn't have enough time to come back. It hurts right now."
The 32 points were the most allowed by Bayfield since a 2014 first-round playoff loss to Faith Christian. The Wolverines lost 40-14 in that game.
Bayfield was outplayed throughly in the first half. It wasn't until the team's final drive that it picked up its initial first down, and the Wolverines marched behind the running of Prior and Dylan Hilliker. But the Durango defense stood tall when backed up against its goal line in the final 30 seconds of the half, and Everett Howland intercepted a Farmer pass on fourth-and-goal from the Durango 7 to end Bayfield's scoring threat. It was a key play in the game, as a last-minute score would have given BHS momentum going into a third quarter in which the Wolverines received the kickoff.
But Howland's interception gave all the momentum back to Durango.
"Explosive," DHS head coach David Vogt said of his team's first half. "We put it all together, finally. We've been waiting for the defense to click and come together. I'm sure glad it happened sooner than later."
Bayfield finally answered in the second half, as quarterback Hayden Farmer hit Hilliker for a big gain and David Hawkins ran the ball hard. Hilliker scored on a reverse play from 4 yards out, and a 2-point conversion pass from Farmer to James Mottin was successful to cut the Durango lead to 32-8 with 7:27 to go in the third quarter.
The third quarter would go to bed quietly, with each defense getting stops. But a resilient Bayfield team didn't go down without a fourth-quarter fight.
Farmer, who finished 10-of-24 passing for 107 yards and four interceptions, put together his best drive of the game, and he hit Prior on a one-handed 16-yard touchdown pass. Prior then had a halfback pass of his own on the 2-point conversion. He rolled around, backtracked and then found Hawkins wide open in the end zone. With a little more than 7 minutes to play in the game, it was suddenly a two-score game, with Bayfield trailing Durango 32-16.
"Our mentality is that we don't want to lose," Prior said. "Of course, it's going to happen sometimes. I'm just proud of my boys for fighting back and not giving up. That's not Bayfield football. We don't give up, and I'm proud of them."
The Wolverines have this weekend off before they begin Class 2A Intermountain League play against Alamosa at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at home.
"We will use this week off to regain some focus, work on ourselves and work on execution, because (Durango's) defense dominated us," Prior said. "We need to focus on executing on both sides of the ball, and a week off will help a lot."