As historic as the Bayfield High School defense has been since the team’s reign of Class 2A dominance began in 2015, it was the defense of the Class 3A Durango Demons and the high-powered offense behind sophomore quarterback Jordan Woolverton and senior running back Dawson Marcum that stole the show Friday night in the inaugural Vallecito Bowl.
Woolverton led the Durango offense for three scores against Bayfield on four first-half drives. He ran for two touchdowns and was on the receiving end of another on a halfback pass from Marcum, and the Demons roared to an 18-0 halftime lead against the defending state champion Wolverines.
Durango (2-2) kept up the pressure in the second half on the way to a 32-16 victory at home Friday night against its La Plata County rival Bayfield (3-1).
“That was a lot of fun,” Marcum said. “I enjoy playing Bayfield. They always bring a fight, and it was a good rebound for us after two losses. We needed this. It was kind of like a do or die, essentially, for us.”
A year after Bayfield earned its first-ever varsity football win against Durango dating back to 1924, the Demons made sure the Wolverines wouldn’t start a winning streak in the series that the Demons now lead 15-1-1. The loss also snapped Bayfield’s school-record streak of 16 consecutive wins.
“Durango is a great team,” BHS senior Keyon Prior said. “They came out and executed. They jumped on us the first half and the third quarter, and we didn’t have enough time to come back. It hurts right now.”
The 32 points were the most allowed by Bayfield since a 2014 first-round playoff loss to Faith Christian. The Wolverines lost 40-14 in that game.
Woolverton finished the game 10-of-15 passing for 91 yards, and he added the two rushing scores and one receiving touchdown. Marcum tallied 142 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Alex Hise had two interceptions, including one for a touchdown. The two Hise interceptions were part of five turnovers forced by the Durango defense.
“This is the team we had to take it to,” Hise said. “It was redemption for us to come back and do that to this team. I’ve known Keyon, David (Hawkins) and Hayden (Farmer) my whole life. This was the last time for us to play them, and it felt incredible.”
Bayfield was outplayed throughly in the first half. It wasn’t until the team’s final drive that it picked up its initial first down, and the Wolverines marched behind the running of Prior and Dylan Hilliker. But the Durango defense stood tall when backed up against its goal line in the final 30 seconds of the half, and Everett Howland intercepted a Farmer pass on fourth-and-goal from the Durango 7 to end Bayfield’s scoring threat. It was a key play in the game, as a last-minute score would have given BHS momentum going into a third quarter in which the Wolverines received the kickoff.
But Howland’s interception gave all the momentum back to Durango, which was never lacking motivation Friday night.
“Explosive,” DHS head coach David Vogt said of his team’s first half. “We put it all together, finally. We’ve been waiting for the defense to click and come together. I’m sure glad it happened sooner than later.”
The Demons marched 58 yards in 10 plays on the opening drive of the game. Durango was facing a punt on its opening series of downs, but Marcum ran for 35 yards on a fake punt to extend the drive and push the ball deep into Bayfield territory. Woolverton eventually scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper. The extra point was blocked, but Durango led 6-0 with 7 minutes to play in the first quarter.
“(Howland) looked back at me and was like, ‘What do you wanna do?’ I said, ‘Let’s go for it,’” Marcum said of the fake punt. “We went for it, it was wide open and it worked out and it led to a score, which is nice.”
After a Bayfield three and out, the first of three in a row to open the game for the Wolverines, the Demons again marched down the field but turned the ball over on downs on the BHS 19.
Woolverton wouldn’t go without a score on the Demons’ third drive. After a Gage Mestas punt return for a touchdown was called back because of two Durango penalties, Woolverton led the team on a 10-play, 55-yard scoring drive that ended with Marcum’s 9-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Woolverton. Woolverton pitched the ball right to Marcum and then rolled out to the left. No Bayfield defenders went with him, and Marcum lofted a perfect pass to his quarterback for the score. Marcum attempted a 2-point conversion pass, but it failed. Durango led 12-0 with 12 minutes to play in the first half.
“I saw the ball and it was a little short,” Woolverton said of Marcum’s pass on the touchdown. “I totally lost it in the light. So, I kind of just stuck my arms out and it landed there. I walked in, and it worked out.”
DHS wasn’t done in the second quarter. Woolverton would score on a 5-yard run on a drive that was aided by two big Bayfield penalties. A questionable pass interference on BHS in the end zone could have been called offensive pass interference just as easily, but the call went against the Wolverines. Farmer threw up his hands and barked at the referees when the call was made, and that unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave Durango first-and-goal.
The extra point after Woolverton’s touchdown run was again blocked, but the Demons had an 18-0 lead to take into halftime after Howland’s interception.
Right out of halftime, Bayfield fumbled on its first play. Durango’s Demetrius Trujillo recovered on the Bayfield 28, but Marcum fumbled the ball right back to BHS on the next play, as Farmer came up with the loose ball.
But, one play later, Farmer threw an interception to Durango’s Hise, who juggled it and returned it 30 yards for a Durango touchdown. Woolverton made the extra point, and the Demons took a 25-0 lead with 11:25 to play in the third quarter.
“Farmer dropped back, was looking my way, and I read it the whole time,” Hise said. “It was a little underthrown. I tipped it up to myself and made sure to take it, and the rest was the run.”
On Bayfield’s first play of the next drive, Farmer was intercepted for the third time in as many throws. This time, it was Ben Finneseth who came up with the ball. One play later, Marcum ran 23 yards for a touchdown. Woolverton made the extra point, and Durango’s lead was quickly up to 32-0 with 10:27 to play in the third quarter.
Bayfield finally answered on its next drive, as Farmer hit Dylan Hilliker for a big gain and Hawkins ran the ball hard. Hilliker would score on a reverse play from 4 yards out, and a 2-point conversion pass from Farmer to James Mottin was successful to cut the Durango lead to 32-8 with 7:27 to go in the third quarter.
The third quarter would go to bed quietly, with each defense getting stops. But a resilient Bayfield team wouldn’t go down without a fourth-quarter fight.
Farmer, who finished 10-of-24 passing for 107 yards and four interceptions, put together his best drive of the game, and he hit Prior on a 16-yard touchdown pass, as Prior fought through pass interference and hauled in a one-handed catch. Prior then had a halfback pass of his own on the 2-point conversion, as he rolled around, backtracked and then found Hawkins wide open in the end zone. With a little more than 7 minutes to play in the game, it was suddenly a two-score game, with Bayfield trailing Durango 32-16.
“Our mentality is that we don’t want to lose,” Prior said. “Of course, it’s going to happen sometimes. I’m just proud of my boys for fighting back and not giving up. That’s not Bayfield football. We don’t give up, and I’m proud of them.”
The Bayfield defense forced a quick three-and-out, and the Wolverines got the ball back on their own 21 with 4:56 to play. But Farmer was intercepted by Hise one more time with 3:49 to play. A personal foul call on Durango was called, but the ball still somehow stayed with the Demons, who took over on their own 38.
Durango went three-and-out and had to punt. Hawkins blocked the punt, and the Wolverines took over on the Durango 41, but BHS couldn’t find a last-minute score.
Durango ran out the clock from there to earn the rivalry win and the right to hoist the Vallecito Bowl trophy.
“A huge crowd, a trophy, this was amazing,” Vogt said. “The kids, the atmosphere, it was just awesome.”
The Wolverines will have a week off before they will begin Class 2A Intermountain League play against Alamosa at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at home.
“We will use this week off to regain some focus, work on ourselves and work on execution, because (Durango’s) defense dominated us,” Prior said. “We need to focus on executing on both sides of the ball, and a week off will help a lot.”
Durango will stay at home for a third consecutive week to host Farmington at 7 p.m. Friday.
“This was a super special win,” Woolverton said. “It was great to have Bayfield come here and for us to take a dub and go home with that trophy. This feels great.”