Basic coach Jeff Cahill reminded senior Daniel Paonessa not to coast on extra points Thursday. To drive the point home further, the two had the same conversation before Friday’s game at Durango.
Paonessa got the message.
The senior blocked a extra-point attempt in the third quarter that would’ve tied the game at 13, and the Wolves went on to win their fourth straight season opener, 13-12.
“Those plays are not just take-off plays,” Cahill said. “You have to go hard on those extra points and those extra-point blocks, and it actually won us the game.”
Trailblazers quarterback Kaden Renshaw had a 9-yard rushing touchdown with 6:39 to go in the third quarter, pulling his team within one with the extra point pending. That’s when Paonessa, rushing off the right side, made the play of the game.
He leapt and used all of his 5-foot-8 frame to get in front of the extra-point attempt, deflecting it harmlessly to the side of the goalpost.
“It really does happen. Games come down to a point,” Paonessa said.
Basic’s defense, which returns five starters this season, held on from there. Durango (0-1) got the ball back with no timeouts and 1:36 left in the game, but Renshaw’s final heave fell incomplete.
“We got a lot of work to do. I don’t feel like we played to our potential,” Paonessa said. “It’s just the first game jitters, we’ll bounce back. We won’t let this happen again.”
The Wolves (1-0) outgained the Trailblazers 273-237 and received just enough offense from their returning playmakers. Senior Dorian McAllister ran for 115 yards, and junior quarterback Paul Myro and senior running back Trace Evans each had a rushing touchdown.
Senior running back Tau Fotu ran for 105 yards for Durango, and had a 48-yard rushing score at the end of the first quarter that tied the game at 6.
The game became briefly chaotic late in the third quarter when loud noises were heard near the school, causing a group of fans to run from the stands. The public address announcer asked fans to remain in their seats and the game proceeded without incident.
Basic held onto its lead, and got its season off to a good start after going 3-7 in 2017.
“Ton of mistakes, turnovers at the wrong time. But at the end of the game, I thought our kids kicked it into high gear,” Cahill said. “It’s always good to be 1-0.”