Limon shatters Hayden's Cinderella dreams

— The Hayden Tigers offense ended a bitter-cold playoff game Saturday the same way it started it with a turnover.

On the last play of Hayden's 55-18 loss to Limon High School, junior quarterback Kevin Miller threw his last pass of the season in a cold, stiff wind only to have the ball intercepted by an opposing defensive back.

For the game, Miller threw two interceptions and one was returned for a touchdown. The Tigers offense also lost seven fumbles.

"Today we were outmanned and outgunned," said Kevin Kleckler, Hayden's head coach. "We fumbled six times in the first quarter. That was the turning point."

Hayden received the opening kickoff and started out on its own 20-yard line when Miller fumbled on the first play. Two plays later, the Badgers were on the scoreboard with a 6-0 lead.

The Tigers got the ball back and were putting a drive together when Miller fumbled on an option play.

The Badgers recovered at the 41-yard line.

On the next play, Badger senior quarterback Tom Hubbard threw a long pass to junior wide receiver Jake Stone, who is 6-foot-7, for a touchdown.

The play made the score 12-0.

The Tigers got the ball back but were unable to move it and kicked the ball back to the Badgers.

On this series, Tiger cornerback Josh Giessinger intercepted a Hubbard pass and returned it deep into Badger territory. Looking to close the 12-0 gap, Miller threw a pass that was intercepted by Hubbard, who returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. The turnover put the Tigers down 20-0. The Tigers got the ball back but once again they fumbled the ball.

The Badgers drove the ball to the 8-yard line but gave the ball back when Tiger defensive lineman Nathan Bruggink recovered a fumble.

Two plays later, the Tigers gave the ball back to the Badgers when Miller and a running back fumbled a hand-off exchange.

On the first play of the second period, the Badgers extended their lead to 28-0 when junior running back Josh Dole scored on a nine-yard run.

In the second quarter, the Badgers were able to extend their lead to 35-0 when Hubbard threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bleu Ellis.

The Badgers put the game away with 4 seconds left in the first half when Hubbard threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Stone to make the score 42-0.

The score ended a first half that saw the Tigers fumble nine times, seven of which they lost. The Badgers fumbled twice in the first half but lost only one.

The entire game was played in cold temperatures and a frozen surface that featured snow in some areas of the field.

"The conditions were tough for us, but they were able to hold on to the ball," Kleckler said.

David Grimes, Limon's head coach, believes the difference in the game was his team's ability to score points off the Tigers' eight turnovers in the first half.

"They made some mistakes, and we were able to capitalize on them," he said.

Limon extended its lead to 49-0 when they scored late in the third period.

Hayden finally got some points on the board when senior wide receiver Matt Walden scored on a 35-yard run to make the score 49-6. The Tigers scored on their next possession when Miller threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Walden to make the score 49-12.

The Tigers added another touchdown in the final period when Miller scored from one yard out.

Stone, though, put the exclamation point on the Badgers' victory when he took an on-side kick 65 yards for a touchdown to end the scoring for both teams.

The game marked the first time in 25 years that Hayden, 6-5, hosted a playoff game. Limon, 9-2, will now move on to the semifinals.

To reach Gary E. Salazar call 871-4205 or e-mail gsalazar@amigo.net

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