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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rough Fourth Quarter Costs Spartans

Berthoud falls to Greeley Central 11-9 in opener

By Dan Karpiel
Sports Writer

The Spartans kicked off their 2010 campaign with a solid three quarters of football Friday night at Max Marr Field. Unfortunately for Berthoud the fourth quarter proved their un-doing. Playing their only bad football of the night at the worst possible time, the Spartans dropped their season opener 11 – 9 to the Greeley Central Wildcats.

This Spartan defensive lineup set up the interception by Moore in the first quarter.

The Wildcats marched down the field on the opening drive of the game but failed to put any points on the board. Thanks to an interception in the end zone from Berthoud senior safety Colton Moore, the Spartans eliminated any chance to score. Moore looked like a pro leaping in front of Greeley Central’s Forest Desmond to snag the pick. “I didn’t see anything special…was just in the right position” Moore said about his drive-killing interception.

Berthoud took the momentum-shifting turnover and put together an impressive drive of their own. Driving 80 yards down the field, the Spartans scored the first points of the contest on a 30-yard pass from junior quarterback Zach Ruebesam to halfback Chase Fraser. The extra point attempt would sail wide giving the Spartans a 6 – 0 lead.

Berthoud’s defense came up big again on the next series when junior Thomas Doles tackled the Greeley Central ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage for a seven-yard loss on third down, forcing Greeley Central to punt. However, the Spartans were not yet done making big plays on defense. After allowing the Wildcats to again march down the field, junior defensive back Michael Nienaber intercepted a pass in the end zone, eliminating another Greeley West scoring opportunity.

Some good fortune was also on Berthoud’s side in the first half when a 74-yard TD by Greeley West, which came on a beautiful screen pass to wide receiver Desmond Forest, was called back due to off-setting personal foul penalties. Thanks to their opportunistic, bend-but-don’t-break defense, Berthoud held a 6 – 0 lead at halftime. The Spartans surrendered some yards but forced three turnovers, the two end zone interceptions and one on downs, and appeared in control of the game at the midway point.

The Berthoud offense came out firing to open the second half. Marching down the field and converting on a few second- and third-and-longs on the way, Spartan kicker Colton Moore was good on a field goal to give Berthoud a 9 – 0 lead. “It felt good coming off” Moore said of his 30-yard field goal.

The Spartans took their lead into the fourth quarter but that’s when the wheels started to come off. After a nice punt return aided a 15-yard facemask penalty, the Wildcats finally found the end zone. With 8:18 remaining in the game, Greeley Central’s Jesse Freeman took a pass over the middle and galloped into the end zone. At 6’3”, 221 pounds and with good speed, Freeman looked like someone who should be playing on Sunday afternoons, not Friday nights. “We knew about him,” Berthoud Head Coach Dan McGinn said after the game but also added the Spartans didn’t do anything special with their game plan because of Freeman. Greeley Central was able to get a 2-point conversion and quickly cut Berthoud’s lead to 9 – 8.

The Spartans offense also began to struggle in the fourth quarter, failing to convert on third and 13 and having to punt the ball back to the Wildcats. Greeley Central then marched down the field against the Berthoud defense. The key play of the drive was a 23-yard run by halfback Andrew Trevino. The Spartan defense tightened and held Greeley Central to only a field goal, but in doing so surrendered the lead for the first time in the game.

With the score 11 – 9, Berthoud took possession needing to score to win the game. This was when Greeley Central’s defense stepped up and made a big play. With the ball on Berthoud’s 24-yard line, Wildcat defensive back Brandon Trevino snagged Ruebesam’s pass for an interception. With possession of the ball, Greeley Central kept it on the ground, forcing Berthoud to use up their timeouts. With the ball on their own 8-yard line, the Wildcats took a knee to run out the clock and end the game with 11 – 9 victory.

“For a few minutes there we lost (focus) on both sides of the ball,” Dan McGinn said after the game. Coach McGinn and his staff will have two weeks to get their team ready for the next contest as Berthoud has September 3 off. The Spartan’s next two games will both be on the road, in Sterling on September 10 and in Frederick on September 17.

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