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Pagosa downs Montezuma-Cortez in overtime thriller

M-CHS second half rally cut down in extra session

PAGOSA SPRINGS – Combine two teams playing for their postseason lives and Friday the 13th, and M-CHS’ trip to Pagosa Springs had all the makings of a wild encounter.

The Panthers rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the second half to force overtime, but Pagosa Springs scored a touchdown on their first possession of the extra frame, surpassing the Panther field goal in the extra session to capture a critical 20-17 victory.

M-CHS (4-4, 2-1 2A IML) got the ball first from the 10-yard line to open up overtime, and after the offense couldn’t move the ball closer to the end zone, they settled for a 27-yard Isaac Dozal field goal attempt. The sophomore punched the try through the uprights to give the visitors a 17-14 lead.

However, Pagosa Springs ran the ball twice on their opportunity from the 10, culminating with a connection on a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, as sophomore Creede Dozier found junior tight end Seth Ziegler in the flat, and the Pirates scored the walk-off touchdown to break Panther hearts.

For a second straight year, the Pirates and Panthers met on the gridiron with plenty at stake, with the Pirates stealing away with victories on both occasions. With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, both teams knew fully well how important a victory would be for closing in on a postseason berth.

The new-look Panther ground-and-pound approach ensured that the game clock would fly by, but it was the Pirates who used their own power to provide the game’s opening points.

Pagosa Springs (4-3, 1-1 2A IML) scored midway through the second quarter as senior Gavin Lindahl capitalized on a big pass play to set up the Pirates at the 1-yard line, which he cashed in.

Two M-CHS chances late in the second quarter in Pirate territory came up empty, as the Panthers coughed up two of their four turnovers in the game to keep the score 7-0 at half.

Lindahl then added to the lead on the first drive of the second half with his second score – another short plunge. With nine minutes left in the third quarter, the Panthers were left with work to do to get back into the game.

Showing the grit of a battle-tested team, M-CHS immediately responded with a 70-yard drive, capped by junior quarterback Colby McMillian’s two-yard effort, cutting the deficit to 14-6.

Then, with momentum surging on the orange-and-black sideline, the defense stepped up the occasion, with senior Dean York anchoring a stout Panther unit that pushed the Pirates back and setting up M-CHS with a short field. M-CHS cashed in with McMillian’s second short score, and with the two-point conversion, M-CHS had knotted the score at 14 early in the fourth quarter.

Another defensive stop set up the Panthers with good field position and a chance to take the lead, but this time, the Pirate defense stood tall, denying the Panthers on a fourth-and-short in the red zone.

A late Pirate drive, however, was snuffed out by junior Tay Wheat’s interception as Pagosa Springs had moved into field goal range in the dying seconds of regulation, setting up the dramatic overtime session.

M-CHS enters their bye week before hosting unbeaten and state No. 1 Delta (7-0, 2-0 2A IML) on Senior Night at Panther Stadium, needing a victory to break into the postseason field. Their clash against Delta is set for Friday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m., with all the action covered on local radio station 98.7 FM KRTZ, as well as krtzradio.com.