BAYFIELD – It can never be said that the Bayfield High School football team has never beat Durango High School.
The two teams have played 16 times since 1924. Friday night, the Wolverines beat the Demons 20-13 in a game that will live in the memory of La Plata County football fans for generations. It was the first time ever Bayfield has beat Durango, moving the Wolverines’ record to 1-14-1 all time against the school separated by only 21 miles.
“I wanted it bad,” said Bayfield senior Hunter Killough, who had the game-clinching interception on the 1-yard line in the game’s final seconds. “Since we were little guys, the first year we all got to play football together, we were playing Durango, smashing each other head-to-head. It’s always good competition. Since last year, I had been stewing on this game. It’s good to get that victory.”
The two teams renewed their rivalry in 2016 for the first time in 80 years. As it was Friday night, the 2016 game was a classic, with the Demons winning 14-6 in overtime on homecoming night in Durango.
This time, it was Bayfield’s homecoming night, and the Wolverines wouldn’t be denied history.
With the game tied 13-13 at halftime and through the third quarter, neither defense would budge. But Class 2A Bayfield (4-0) got the ball back deep in its own territory, and junior quarterback Hayden Farmer led the team down the field for the game-winning drive. He hit wide receiver Dax Snooks for a 29-yard gain on a key third-and-10 play at midfield, as Snooks got his feet down in bounds before being pushed out. One play later, Farmer faked a handoff to Killough and found a wide open Snooks for a 21-yard touchdown pass. Durango’s defense bit on the play action to the Bayfield fullback several times in the game, and this time it cost the Demons’ defense six points.
“We lined up and the corner walked up and tried to play man,” Snooks said. “I knew then the safety was gonna come up and I’d be open. It’s a joy to be wide open with a chance to catch a ball like that. I’m still stunned. I can’t wrap my head around this win. It’s insane.”
Snooks and Farmer connected on two touchdown passes in the game, the first coming with 57 seconds to go in the first half to give BHS a 13-6 lead. That also was a 21-yard connection on a very similar play to cap off a 10-play, 85-yard drive.
For Farmer, the connection had extra significance. The junior quarterback wears No. 45 to honor his late sister Shaniah, who died in a car accident in 2011. Shaniah wore No. 45 in volleyball, and Farmer honors her by wearing the same number or the No. 9, adding the four and the five of the number to get nine. His two touchdown passes went to Snooks, who wears No. 9.
“She’s shining down on us, man,” Farmer said. “The fact it’s homecoming, crosstown rivals who we’ve never beat. Nothing better. It’s unbelievable.”
After Bayfield’s go-ahead score with 3 minutes, 40 seconds to play, Durango mounted a strong drive looking to tie or potentially win the game. Quarterback Max Hyson led a beautiful march down the field with short passes, evading Bayfield’s fierce pass rush with poise and precision. But with the Demons facing third-and-10 from the Bayfield 14-yard line with about 20 seconds remaining, the pass rush of Ryan Phelps forced Hyson to scramble to his weak side and desperately look for a receiver. He found his man but had to throw back across his body and Killough stepped in front of the pass to secure Bayfield’s win.
“The linemen and backers were getting pressure, and I was dropping back looking for guys coming through my zone,” Killough said. “I saw a guy streaking across late and saw (Hyson) under pressure looking for a way out and I picked it off.”
Phelps’ play all game changed the way Durango’s offense played. Between the pressure of Phelps and the big hits of players such as Cole Wood, Durango mustered only 23 yards rushing in the first half and 69 rushing yards in the game. Phelps had a big dropped pass in last year’s loss at Durango, and Friday’s win was vindication.
“Since I’m the one that dropped that pass last year, it’s nice to get this one back,” Phelps said. “When I saw Hunter get that interception, I started crying.”
Hyson had an incredible performance aside from his final pass. He went 11-of-19 for 176 yards and two touchdowns to go with two interceptions.
“We’re just trying to get him to make a play,” DHS head coach David Vogt said of his QB and the game’s final pass. “He’s a playmaker for us and we’re gonna trust those guys. He had a hell of a game and we’re proud of him. When you’re playing hard you’re gonna make mistakes. It’s about executing early in the game, that way those mistakes won’t hurt you.”
Vogt congratulated the Wolverines in their team huddle after the game. In the moments after, BHS head coach Gary Heide informed his players that his sister had died earlier in the day, and the team rallied around their head coach. Heide’s sons, twins Carl and Dawson, are seniors for the Wolverines. Carl Heide had perhaps the biggest game of his career with 114 rushing yards and an 80-yard TD run on the Wolverines’ first possession of the game. He added 55 yards receiving on five receptions.
“It means the world to us. We’re a family in there, and coach is basically our dad when it comes to football,” Killough said. “To hear that news, it breaks our heart, too. Two of his sons are on the team. To know they’re going through that and playing football at the same time, it’s a great feeling to maybe lift them a little bit.”
Both teams opened the game with explosive offense before the defense settled in. The Wolverines received the opening kick, and Carl Heide broke his 80-yard touchdown run on third down to open the scoring. BHS was flagged for a false start on th extra point, and the longer try was no good.
Durango answered back in a flash, as Hyson hit Kade Jackson with a medium range pass. Jackson broke free of the Bayfield defense and streaked down the field for a 65-yard touchdown. The extra point from Harrison Kairalla was good, and the Demons had a 7-6 lead after the game’s opening two possessions.
The defenses controlled the rest of the half until the final minute. After a brilliant pass from Farmer to Snooks for 29 yards on third-and-10, the two connected again one play later on a 21-yard TD pass with Snooks running wide open. That gave Bayfield a 13-7 lead after a made Chris Mooney extra point, which also was backed up five yards after another Bayfield false start.
But it didn’t take Durango long to answer before halftime. After a long Gavin Mestas kick return set the Demons up on the Bayfield 45-yard line, Hyson immediately hit Alex Hise on a 45-yard TD pass. The extra point was blocked by the Wolverines, sending the game into the half tied at 13-13.
“It was tough,” Vogt said. “They’re a good team. They flew around and made a bunch of plays, and it turns out they made more plays than us.”
Bayfield did it without the help of star junior running back and linebacker David Hawkins, who is out at least a month with a knee injury. The Wolverines also were without speedy playmaker Keyon Prior, a junior who is battling turf toe. BHS also missed starting center Ian Nelson, and foreign exchange student Philip Delshammar filled in to snap the ball for the Wolverines. BHS hopes to have all its weapons back in time for the state playoffs, when the Wolverines will try to win a second state championship in the last three years.
“This was one of the toughest preseasons Bayfield has ever had,” Killough said. “To go 4-0, that’s incredible.”
Durango fell to 3-2 with the loss and will have a bye next week before beginning league play. “We gotta let this one go,” Vogt said. ‘We still have five games ahead of us, and if we can take care of business we still feel like we can win the district and have a home playoff game. We have to clean up our mistakes and play better. We’re still in it and we have to keep fighting.”
Herald sports reporter Karl Schneider contributed to this firstname.lastname@example.org