A powerful Bayfield High School defense was patient while the Wolverines' offense worked through a fifth consecutive half of miscues and timing problems. When the Wolverines' offense began to click, the team scored three touchdowns in four drives to back up the defensive performance.
It was homecoming night Friday in Bayfield. The host Wolverines were eager to open the Class 2A Intermountain League schedule at home inside Wolverine Country Stadium. Behind three interceptions, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt in the first half, the Wolverines went into the halftime homecoming ceremonies with a 16-0 lead against the Alamosa Mean Moose. A late first-half touchdown gave Bayfield momentum at the break, and the Wolverines continued their dominant defensive performance in the second half on the way to a 30-6 victory. BHS extended its home winning streak to 22 games to add to the school record.
"Through the course of this week, as the game got closer, we knew our game is to play stellar defense and demoralize the other team," BHS head coach Gary Heide said. "That is really what happened. We had flashes of trying to get things going on offense. I'm happy because I see a lot of weapons there. We'll get the team all on the same page and rolling sometime this season."
After a 20-8 win at home against Aspen three weeks earlier and a 32-16 road loss to Durango two weeks ago, the third-ranked Wolverines (4-1, 1-0 IML) hoped to click better offensively coming off a bye week. But the Wolverines' offense continued to sputter in the red zone. The team had six red zone trips against Aspen come up with no points, and the team had four such possessions end without a score Friday night against Alamosa (3-2, 0-1 IML).
But BHS found some life offensively with a pair of touchdown drives in the second half to back up the late first-half score.
Neither team scored in the first quarter. Homecoming king Reed Merchant recovered an Alamosa fumble on the second offensive play of the game, and Max McGhehey had an interception on Alamosa's second possession.
The Wolverines got on the scoreboard with 9 minutes, 4 seconds to play in the second quarter after a 12-play, 62-yard drive ended with a 1-yard run from senior quarterback Hayden Farmer. McGhehey made the extra point, and the Wolverines led 7-0.
BHS senior David Hawkins blocked an Alamosa punt attempt on the next Mean Moose possession, and the Wolverines had the ball on the Alamosa 5. But Farmer fumbled on the 1-yard line, and Kody Brubacher fell on it for the Mean Moose to get the ball back. Dylan Hilliker got the ball back for the Wolverines with his first of two first-half interceptions, and he returned it all the way to the Alamosa 15. After a Farmer pass to Keyon Prior on the sideline of the end zone was ruled incomplete, the Wolverines settled for a 28-yard field goal from McGhehey that gave BHS a 10-0 lead with 4:05 to go in the half.
Hilliker picked off his second pass from a second quarterback on Alamosa's next possession, after the Mean Moose inserted Chad Jackson at quarterback after he had completed a fake punt pass in the quarter. Brandon Madril had started the game 1-of-8 passing for the Mean Moose with two interceptions and two fumbles, including one lost. Hilliker returned it from the BHS 5-yard-line out to the 35, and the Wolverines had two minutes to work with all three timeouts.
"A lot of it was beating the offensive line off the ball," Hilliker said. "We had great pressure all game. The linebackers were doing their jobs flushing the quarterback out and made him panic, and that made opportunities for plays to happen."
Farmer quickly hit James Mottin on a 40-yard pass to get into Alamosa territory. Hawkins scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cap a seven-play drive. The extra point was no good, and BHS took a 16-0 lead into halftime. Hawkins finished the game with 80 rushing yards on 20 carries.
"The score before half felt good," said Farmer, who finished 9-of-18 passing for 145 yards to go with two rushing touchdowns. "It fed us in the second half. To go score with 20 seconds left in the quarter and then get the ball to start the third quarter, it was energy and momentum that we needed and we got. I'm proud of the team for taking the ball from them and driving with 1:50 left. That's playing ball right there."
It only took three plays for the Wolverines to score in the third quarter, as Hilliker broke free on a 65-yard touchdown run. He cut through the Mean Moose defense and used his supreme speed to race into the end zone. McGhehey made the extra point, and BHS led 23-0 with 10:56 to go in the third quarter. Hilliker finished with 115 total offensive yards on four runs and three receptions.
"It felt good to keep the momentum going," Hilliker said. "It helps the team to keep pounding on them right there and not back down with what we were doing running. We moved forward, didn't get cold and kept pounding."
BHS turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, but an Alec Demko sack helped get the Wolverines the ball back after an Alamosa punt on the BHS 19. The Wolverines then marched 81 yards on 15 plays. After Farmer completed a big 21-yard pass on fourth-and-long to Hilliker, Farmer scored three plays later on a 1-yard run. The McGhehey extra point made it a 30-0 Wolverines lead.
"We had the spark before halftime," Heide said. "We went in the first quarter struggling on offense, but there was a sense of big relief in the locker room. They felt like, 'OK, now we're rolling, let's go.' That was a big confidence boost that carried over."
Alamosa would mount a late scoring drive for only its second touchdown in the last four meetings against the Wolverines. Jackson hit Nick Brubacher on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 2:03 to play in the game. The 2-point conversion failed, and the Wolverines ran out the rest of the clock from there.
Prior added 60 yards of offense for BHS.
BHS held Alamosa to only 32 rushing yards and 122 passing yards. Isaac Lorenzen added a sack and multiple hurries on the quarterback. Jackson was 5-of-15 passing for Alamosa with 82 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
"Our defense controlled the game," Farmer said. "It's easy for us to win ball games when they're rolling like that."
Farmer said the offense still needs to work on minimizing turnovers. After a bye last week, the team now has another bye because Gunnison canceled varsity football this season, and BHS was never able to find a new opponent to add to the schedule. BHS will host Montezuma-Cortez at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 in the final home game of the regular season, as the Wolverines will only play three home games this year. Salida (5-0) looms during the final week of the regular season Oct. 26 with the game in Salida.
"We're approaching the league season one at a time," Heide said. "We don't care what we rank, we want to go win the next game, and that is the Cortez Panthers."