Bulldogs flip switch, roar back to beat Limon
HOTCHKISS — Snapshot No. 1: Limon’s Tyler Koehn catches a 14-yard touchdown reception to put the Badgers ahead 26-7. Just four minutes remain in the third quarter.
Along the Limon sideline, black- and white-clad fans wave their hands back and forth, a culture of unison, as the Class 1A state quarterfinal football game seemingly gets out of hand.
Snapshot No. 2: Just four minutes later, Hotchkiss running back Jacobe Galley breaks off an 18-yard touchdown run, and, after the Bulldogs’ defense has recovered a fumble, forced a punt and caused Limon to turn the ball over on downs, Hotchkiss has taken a 27-26 lead. The home sideline begins howling.
The switch — whatever it was — had been hit. No. 10 seed Hotchkiss scored 40 unanswered points in 16 minutes Saturday to rout No. 2 Limon 47-26.
Limon (10-1) had been undefeated and had not allowed more than 20 points in a game.
Against Hotchkiss, the Badgers collected four first-half turnovers — they recovered three of six fumbles and nabbed one interception.
Maybe Galley hit the “easy” button. With Hotchkiss down 26-7, his 34-yard kickoff return was the longest all-purpose play of the game for the Bulldogs (9-2), and it led to Conner Beard’s 15-yard touchdown reception.
In doing so, the Bulldogs answered a Limon touchdown in 27 seconds.
Hotchkiss coach Zac Lemon wished he knew more about this “switch.”
“If I knew the switch,” he said, “I’d turn it on at the beginning of the game.”
After Beard’s touchdown, Hotchkiss’s Colton Pearce recovered a fumble and Trenten Tamayo later ran for a 15-yard touchdown.
Hotchkiss stopped Limon again with the help of a Joe Boyle sack, and then Galley, the senior leader with a red, viking-like beard who played in the frigid, blowing, snowy conditions with exposed arms, scored on an 18-yard touchdown to put Hotchkiss up for good, 27-26, with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
“It was just family coming together,” said Galley, who finished with 163 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 19 carries.
“We have 15 seniors — they understand. They know. We’re on a journey. We’re going. They know to turn that switch. And when we turn the switch, it’s Hotchkiss football.”
In a stunningly short amount of time, Hotchkiss had gone from turnover-prone and down 26-7 to finishing a blowout victory after its final touchdown, a Galley eight-yard run.
“This may have been a state-championship game, possibly,” Limon coach Mike O’Dwyer said. “They have that kind of talent on that side of the ball, and I think we have a very good football team over here.”
Limon scored its first touchdown after a botched Hotchkiss kickoff return. In fact, before the first quarter was over, Hotchkiss had lost three fumbles.
But the Bulldogs never lost sight of that journey which now takes them into the semifinals against Cedaredge, the team that defeated Hotchkiss 21-20 in the regular season.
“We lost twice in the regular season,” said Hotchkiss quarterback Josh Hardin of the Bulldogs’ losses to Cedaredge and Buena Vista, which will play Wray in the other semifinal. “We learned we can’t get down on each other. And we learned that (at halftime) this could be the last 24 minutes we could actually play with each other.”
Instead, they found a switch and earned at least 48 more.