Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
BAYFIELD – The defense, in this case, didn’t rest.
On the contrary, the Wolverines’ defense took matters into its own hands Saturday afternoon.
Trailing Trinidad 12-7 in the fourth quarter of the first-round Class 2A state playoff game at Wolverine Country Stadium, the Bayfield defense forced and recovered two fumbles.
The Wolverines’ offense converted both turnovers into touchdowns, helping the Bayfield High School football team remain unbeaten with a nervous 21-12 victory over the stubborn Miners.
The win sends Bayfield (10-0) into the state quarterfinals next Saturday and a game against Faith Christian (8-2) at Wolverine Country Stadium.
“I was standing on the sidelines, and I couldn’t even contemplate not playing here again,” Bayfield senior linebacker Michael Hawkins said after the comeback victory.
“We knew we had to shut them down (in the second half),” Hawkins said after Trinidad stung the Wolverines with two touchdowns in the second quarter, including a scintillating 80-yard run by senior Chris DeAngelis.
The result was a 12-7 Miners’ lead – Bayfield’s first and only halftime deficit of the season.
“We had to come out and do what we are trained to do every day,” Hawkins said.
Like recover fumbles.
The first recovery came with 11 minutes, 42 seconds to go in the fourth when a BHS defensive wall led by Kyle Briskey ran into Trinidad’s Thomas Bowman, knocking the football free deep in Miners’ territory.
Under the pile, four hands strangled the ball: Two belonged to Hawkins, and two belonged to teammate Zane Westbrook.
“I don’t know who had it – I had it; Westbrook had it. With the crowd and everything, you could feel ... the momentum,” said Hawkins, son of Cindy and Frank Hawkins.
The BHS offense, stymied heretofore by a physical Trinidad defense, quickly drove 21 yards for a score.
Allec Rodriguez, on a halfback option pass, threw 15 yards to Drake Rhodes for the Bayfield touchdown and a 13-12 lead with 9:42 to play. On the two-point conversion, Rodriguez passed to Rhodes just inside the pylon: Bayfield 15, Trinidad 12.
“Coach believes in us as a team. He believes in us as players,” Rodriguez said of the pressure-packed fourth-down option pass for a touchdown.
“We practice it all the time,” said Rodriguez, son of Johnny Rodriguez and CJ and Ramona Nava.
He said a strong run fake is the key to set up the play.
“Big-time teams make big-time plays,” he said. “But I couldn’t do it without the line blocking for me and Drake catching it.”
One series after taking the lead, the Wolverines’ defense forced a punt.
Big-time pressure on fourth down produced a fumbled snap with the Wolverines taking over at the Trinidad 25-yard line.
Six plays and three minutes later, Knickerbocker lofted an 18-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Anthony Chamblee: Bayfield 21, Trinidad 12.
“It seems like all year, if the offense was struggling, the defense would give us another chance,” BHS head coach Gary Heide said.
“They would stop the opponent and give us another chance,” Heide said.
And the offense responded, he said.
“Hats off to our boys on offense. They took advantage of those second chances,” Heide said.
As the No. 3 seed in the Class 2A field of 16, the Wolverines (10-0) eliminated a No. 14 seed that nearly ended Bayfield’s winning streak, courtesy of DeAngelis, the third-leading 2A rusher in the state. His shifty 80-yard run, with a cutback against the defensive flow, put the Miners on the board in the second quarter.
After Trinidad recovered a Bayfield fumble on the next series, DeAngelis, with a 23-yard run, moved the Miners into position for an 8-yard touchdown sneak by freshman quarterback Danny Martin and Trinidad’s 12-7 halftime lead.
DeAngelis finished with 165 yards on 13 carries.
TJ Pazell led BHS with 96 yards on 20 punishing carries against the Miners.
Pazell’s booming 50-yard punt in the first quarter flipped the field and set up the Wolverines for their first score – a 3-yard Pazell run.
“Earlier (in the game), I was feeling pretty good,” Pazell said of his field-position punts.
“Later on, I was cramping a little,” said Pazell, son of David and Stacy Pazell.
DeAngelis experienced the same problems.
“Our team needed a victory like that,” Heide said. “We have the ability to overcome adversity, but we haven’t had to show it the last three weeks.”
But after three consecutive blowouts, BHS on Saturday played under pressure from start to finish.
“I think this sets the bar for us. It sets the bar for a really worthy opponent next week,” Heide said.