Battle Mountain football rallies for win | VailDaily.com

Battle Mountain football rallies for win

Huskies win with no lack of excitement

Battle Mountain football may end up leading the Western Slope in heart attacks induced, but the Huskies are OK with that.

Battle Mountain overcame a 23-13 deficit with a little more than 4 minutes left in regulation for a 27-23 win at Middle Park on Friday night.

“Teams in the past in our program would have laid down in that moment. I’m so proud of them,” Huskies coach Jim Schuppler said. “There was never a doubt. We were taking this thing, just waiting for our chance.”

Making the plays in crunch time

Nothing is ever easy for Battle Mountain football, and it wasn’t Friday. Quarterback Kai Haggen started to earn his stripes with two touchdown passes and well as an impromptu start at free safety on the other side of the ball.

Haggen hooked up with Anthony Sanchez for a long scoring strike to close the Panthers’ lead to 23-19. The Huskies missed the extra point — because nothing is ever easy.

On a serious note, special-teams play on the list of things to address in practice next week, according to coach Schuppler.

The good news is the defense made a stand at midfield. Kiah Gongaware, whose name will come up a bit in the closing drive, got the sack on third down, forcing a punt. Middle Park snapped the ball over the punter’s head, and the Huskies’ Jimmy Hancock fell on him to turn the ball over on downs.

The Huskies took over with 3:48 left on the clock and worked toward the Middle Park goal line. On fourth down-and-1 from the Panthers’ 4, the Huskies had planned a silent count and, naturally, got flagged for offsides.

It never comes easy. We weren’t kidding.

On fourth down-and-6 from the 9, Haggen gave the ball to Gongaware. The play was meant to go inside. Gongaware bounced outside and bulled his into the end zone. It was Gongaware again on the 2-point conversion.

“He was an animal,” Schuppler said.

Since a lot of skill position players have gotten their name in the paper, that means the offensive and defensive lines were doing a great job. Schuppler said that Jeremiah Vasquez and Ernesto Esparza, in particular, were magnificent on both sides of the ball.

The Huskies defense, led by its new/old coordinator, Jeff Krumlauf, shut down Middle Park on its last possession.

The to-do list

Because nothing ever comes easy for Huskies football, their opening drive was going great until Middle Park returned a football for a touchdown and an early 6-0 lead.

The Huskies responded nicely with Haggen hitting Spencer Goldberg for 12 yards and a trip to the house. The Huskies missed the extra point — everybody, now — because nothing comes easily.

Middle Park took a 9-6 lead into halftime and extended that margin to 16-6 to start the third quarter. Gongaware’s first touchdown of the game closed the gap to 16-13.

But all’s well that ends well for Battle Mountain (1-0).

The to-do list for practice includes execution near the goal line as well as play calling there. Coach Schuppler shouldered the responsibility on the latter. The Huskies will also be brushing up their special teams, ball security, and the penalties.

The Huskies host Alameda on Friday at 7 p.m. in their home opener.