LONGMONT -- Niwot has been unable to muster much of a running game all season. And while quarterback Nate Merriman has displayed big-play ability, the senior also has thrown his fair share of interceptions.
That combination proved to be a disastrous mix for the Cougars on Friday. Merriman threw interceptions on consecutive attempts late in the first quarter against Mountain View, and each time the Mountain Lions converted those takeaways into points on the very next play. By the time it was over Niwot had committed five turnovers while suffering a 49-22 defeat in a Class 4A Northern League showdown at Everly-Montgomery Field.
Tyler Kress recorded the first interception of Merriman with 17.9 seconds remaining in the first quarter. On the next play Mountain View quarterback Austin Ryan, who was filling in for starter Adam Baumann as Baumann attended his sister's wedding, hit Josh Sandin for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Niwot's next play ended in an interception by Ryan, who then handed off the football to Jeremiah Clymer for a 15-yard touchdown run.
"(Quarterback) is a high-pressure and low-margin-of-error position," said Niwot coach Josh Brewer, whose team watched its modest two-game winning streak come to an end. "I put a lot of pressure on (Merriman) because I played the position at a high level, and I want him to succeed and live up to his potential. He's on the right track.
"And I think our whole team is on the right track. Today we just didn't have the fire that we've had the last few weeks."
Mountain View (5-1, 2-1 Northern League) extended its lead on another Ryan-to-Sandin connection and took a 28-0 lead into halftime on a 52-yard touchdown run by Ryan.
The Cougars (2-4, 2-1 Northern League) finally got on the board midway through the third quarter, trimming the deficit to 28-6 on a 4-yard touchdown run by Forrest Lee. Niwot then had a golden opportunity to mount a comeback after Lee blocked a Mountain View punt on the Mountain Lions' next possession.
But despite taking over at the Mountain View 3-yard line, a holding penalty immediately put the Cougars in a hole, and a fumble on the next play -- Niwot's fourth turnover of the game -- dashed any thoughts of a comeback. Clymer reeled off a 44-yard run on the next play, setting himself up for a 3-yard plunge that essentially sealed the Cougars' fate.
"We didn't practice well all week, and when you don't practice well you can't just turn it on like that," Brewer said. "Overall, we're just going to go back in and go week-to-week. The results are always going to change in a positive direction the more time we spend with these guys, because you can't just change overnight."
Mountain View extended its lead to 42-6 early in the fourth quarter on a 33-yard pass from Ryan to Tyler Sipes. Merriman gave Niwot's cold and damp homecoming crowd something to cheer about late with a pair of touchdown passes to Elijah Noterman on consecutive plays after the Cougars recovered an onside kick.
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07
MOUNTAIN VIEW 49, NIWOT 22
At Everly-Montgomery Field
Mountain View (5-1, 2-1) 14 14 7 14 -- 49
Niwot (2-4, 2-1) 0 0 6 16 -- 22
Mountain View -- Josh Sandin 35 pass from Austin Ryan (David Dixon kick).
Mountain View -- Jeremiah Clymer 15 run (Dixon kick).
Mountain View -- Sandin 20 pass from Ryan (Dixon kick).
Mountain View -- Ryan 52 run (Dixon kick).
Niwot -- Forrest Lee 4 run (kick failed).
Mountain View -- Clymer 3 run (Dixon kick).
Mountain View -- Tyler Sipes 33 pass from Ryan (Dixon kick).
Niwot -- Elijah Noterman 29 pass from Nate Merriman (Lorne Jenkins run).
Niwot -- Noterman 53 pass from Merriman (Bryan Meek run).
Mountain View -- Clymer 5 run (Dixon kick).
First downs 10 12
Rushes-yards 39-213 26-111
Passing yards 158 236
Comp-Att-Int 9-16-0 15-32-4
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 5-40 7-80
RUSHING -- Mountain View: Jeremiah Clymer 23-145, Austin Ryan 9-53, Connor Logan 3-19, Ozzie Pearcy 2-3, Fisher 1-(-2), Jerrod Klug 1-(-5); Niwot: Jake Thramann 11-48, Nate Merriman 5-40, Michael Philips 5-10, Bryan Meek 3-7, Forrest Lee 1-4, Noah Heape 1-2.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) -- Mountain View: Ryan 9-16-0 158; Niwot: Merriman 15-32-4 236.
RECEIVING -- Mountain View Tyler Kress 4-60, Josh Sandin 2-55, Tyler Sipes 1-33, Clymer 1-7, Logan 1-3; Niwot: Elijah Noterman 3-131, Lorne Jenkins 3-46, Jessie Slepicka 1-17, Danny Caruso 2-16, Lee 1-13, Alex Kinnison 1-5, Cahill Kelleghan 2-4, Meek 2-4.