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Clear Creek’s final home football game had all the drama sports fans crave. There were hugs and tears; a fistfight and swear words; a trick play and nail-biter finish. All it was missing was the …
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Clear Creek’s final home football game had all the drama sports fans crave.
There were hugs and tears; a fistfight and swear words; a trick play and nail-biter finish. All it was missing was the one thing the Golddigger faithful wanted most of all – a win.
Clear Creek, now 0-6 at the end of the regular season, lost Friday’s senior night game to St. Mary’s 22-13 in a down-to-the-wire heartbreaker.
“It’s just hard,” Clay Robertson, one of the team’s eight seniors, said. “ … I never could see a point where (the game) got away from us.”
The Golddiggers took the momentum early in the first quarter with an interception by sophomore Evan Brandt and touchdown by senior Armando Acosta soon after.
On the next St. Mary’s possession, the Golddigger defense was in high gear with several sacks, including some by Robertson.
However, several penalties in the second quarter weakened the team’s momentum, and when St. Mary’s recovered a Clear Creek fumble, the play ended with punches on the field. Acosta and a St. Mary’s player were disqualified for fighting, and Clear Creek was called for another personal foul on the next play.
“We’re going to be physical,” Coach Danion Baca said. “(The St. Mary’s players) didn’t like it so they started throwing punches. (Acosta) made a mistake and threw a punch too. He’s a senior; he has to know better.”
After that, a failure to stop the Pirates on fourth down eventually led to a St. Mary’s touchdown and an unsuccessful two-point conversion.
With less than a minute left before halftime, Clear Creek sophomore quarterback Bode Baker kept the ball and ran more than 50 yards for a touchdown. However, an illegal Clear Creek block walked the play back, and the score remained 7-6.
Very early in the third quarter, senior Jett Howard was called for a personal foul and disqualified.
Later, St. Mary’s forced a safety and took a narrow 8-7 lead.
With about 10 minutes left in the game and the Pirates 15 yards from the endzone, Clear Creek failed to stop St. Mary’s on a fourth-and-1 play. The Pirates scored again, though a Robertson sack stopped the two-point conversion. The score was now 14-7.
On kick-off, the Pirates recovered their onside kick and pushed down to the 13-yard line. Clear Creek intercepted, and the offense fumbled on a succeeding play. St. Mary’s recovered and later scored, and this time the two-point conversion was successful.
Down 22-7 with 3:33 left in the game, Clear Creek needed not one but two miracles. A combination of junior Michael Hillman and Baker carries and a touchdown by senior Campbell Houston gave the Golddiggers their first one with 1:20 left.
The two-point conversion failed, though, as did the succeeding onside kick.
St. Mary’s tried to eat up the clock, but the Golddigger defense found its second wind and forced the punt.
With 13 seconds left on the clock, Clear Creek called a trick play the swinging gate. The entire offensive line shifted over to the left side of the field so Baker could throw it deep. But, Baker didn’t have a chance to get set properly and Clear Creek was called for an illegal formation as the buzzer sounded.
“It’s a tough loss,” Baca said. “We kicked their butts all night. The scoreboard don’t show it, but we won this game. … There were too many of once again our young mistakes and not keeping our composure. That’s what killed us at the end.”
An emotional night
Like Baca, Hillman also felt that the Golddiggers played their hearts out and that the outcome was the only downside of Friday’s senior night.
“I love these seniors,” Hillman said. “They’re literally my family. I wouldn’t be happier in any place than with them on this field.”
Robertson, feeling the full weight of the night’s emotions, stated: “(Senior night) is always something I’ve been dreading getting to. … Win or lose, I was going to be like this; I already knew that. I love everyone out here.”
He was especially proud of his fellow seniors, saying they’ve meant a lot to him and that some of them have played together for seven years.
“It’s sad to see these seniors go,” Baca said. “ … This is probably the best game we’ve played all year.”
Clear Creek now prepares for the April 30/May1 state 2A playoff game against the top-ranked Buena Vista (5-0).
Only eight 2A football teams qualified for spring playoffs, and Clear Creek is ranked eighth
Baca said he was looking forward to having an offseason before resuming fall play, describing how it’s an important time for players to bond and learn the playbook.
“A lot of games are won in the offseason,” he said.
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