LONGMONT -- The defending Class 3A state champion Silver Creek football team is used to overcoming obstacles while in pursuit of a state championship.
A week ago, the Raptors tripped and fell to unranked Frederick on a last-second field goal for their first loss this season. Last week's ambush by the Warriors was eerily similar to a surprising overtime loss the Raptors suffered against Skyline that halted an undefeated streak midway through the 2012 season. The Raptors also lost to Roosevelt the following week in 2012 but rebounded to win out and claim the 3A state title.
After a week of stewing in frustration, the Raptors reasserted their dominance with a 63-25 win over Northridge on Homecoming night at Everly-Montgomery Field.
"That was probably one of the worst feelings you can have in football," Raptors senior wide receiver Eric Machmuller said. "We came out a little mad about last week. We just wanted to have a good game and represent our school."
Machmuller led the charge with 310 all-purpose yards. By the time the Raptors led 42-17 at halftime, Machmuller had 201 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, three receiving and one rushing.
Machmuller caught five passes for 145 yards, including touchdown catches of 30, 45 and 43 yards. He also ran an end-around swing play 72 yards for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 93 yards in the fourth quarter. He averaged 57.6 yards on his five scoring plays.
"It's always a big situation coming into the first conference game," said Machmuller, who caught nine passes for 147 yards and a score in the Week 4 loss to Frederick. "We just wanted to come out strong and get on top. We were clicking really well. The line and the receivers were blocking really well and the quarterback put it where it should be."
Scoring 28 points in their first 14 offensive plays, the Raptors needed just one half of football to separate themselves from the Grizzlies, whom they led 42-17 at the midway break. Senior quarterback Ben Sjobakken needed to complete just 12 of his 14 passes for 236 yards and five touchdowns, including a 42-yard touchdown to Brock Ricks and a 5-yard score to Andre Apodaca.
Sjobakken, who now has 16 touchdown passes and just three interceptions this season, said facing the Grizzlies' man-to-man coverage helped him connect on big plays to his many receiving threats. Machmuller, especially.
"Man, Eric was a monster tonight," Sjobakken said. "In man coverage, it's hard to cover him and everybody else. I just had to get in it their hands so they could do good things with the ball."
Sophomore tailback Anthony Kasper led the Raptors' ground game with 186 yards on 12 carries.
After allowing a season-high 28 points to the Warriors in Week 4, the Raptors defense held the Grizzlies to 25 points despite being on the field most of the game. They also recovered and fumble on defense and another on a punt after junior linebacker Dakota Silva blocked it.
Grizzlies junior quarterback Brenden Fulton threw for 238 yards and a touchdown but the Raptors had 17 total pass break-ups against a Grizzlies' no-huddle passing attack. Matched up on Grizzlies star receiver Jay Frye from the second quarter on, Machmuller had four pass deflections on deep plays.
A relentless pass rush led by senior defensive end Collin Gibbs made it difficult for Fulton to throw accurately in the 40-degree weather.
"We talked before the game about keeping them out of the endzone and really breaking down when they get inside the 20-yard line," Gibbs said. "Coach told us before the game that we needed to get the quarterback on the ground. We didn't have as many sacks as we'd like to but the rush was able to force bad throws and our guys downfield were making good plays. We pretty much had them manned up so it was athlete-on-athlete and they came through."
Gibbs led the Raptors with eight tackles, one for a loss, and split a sack with Apodaca, who also had eight tackles. Senior defensive tackle Levi Cecil had seven tackles and senior Mitch Webster had a sack on a corner blitz.
Last week's loss to the Warriors dropped the Raptors from No. 1 to No. 4 in the latest CHSAA rankings poll. Head coach Mike Apodaca said the Raptors were happy to get back on the state championship trail they blazed through the first third of the season.
"It was more important for us to be efficient," Apodaca said. "Defensively, it took us a while. They had us reeling a little bit. But we kept them out of the endzone for the most part and we were able to stop the big stuff."
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Silver Creek 63, Northridge 25
At Everly-Montgomery Field
Northridge (3-3, 0-1) 6 11 0 8 -- 25
Silver Creek (4-1, 1-0) 28 14 14 7 -- 63
Silver Creek -- Eric Machmuller 30 pass from Ben Sjobakken (Ryan Charles kick).
Northridge -- Jacob Lobato 26 pass from Brenden Fulton (run short).
Silver Creek -- Andre Apodaca 2 run (Charles kick).
Silver Creek -- Machmuller 72 run (Charles kick).
Silver Creek -- Machmuller 45 pass from Sjobakken (Charles kick).
Northridge -- Seth Czapenski 32 field goal.
Northridge -- Tony Dennis-Lopez 1 run (Jaedon Mills pass from Fulton).
Silver Creek -- Machmuller 43 pass from Sjobakken (Charles kick).
Silver Creek -- Brock Ricks 42 pass from Sjobakken (Charles kick).
Silver Creek -- Apodaca 5 pass from Sjobakken (Charles kick).
Silver Creek -- Josh Quiroz 1 run (Charles kick).
Northridge -- Fulton 5 run (Jay Fry pass from Fulton).
Silver Creek -- Machmuller 93 kickoff return (Charles kick).
RUSHING -- Northridge: Brenden Fulton 12-33, Dillon Dreher 4-23, Tony Dennis-Lopez 10-22, Cody Pedraza 5-9, Kayson Werner 1-3, Isaiah Avalos 6-(-7); Silver Creek: Anthony Kasper 12-186, Eric Machmuller 1-72, Josh Quiroz 4-22, Andre Apodaca 4-9, Kanoa Gallegos 2-6, Grant Moore 3-10, Austin Wood 4-(-3), Ben Sjobakken 2-(-5).
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) -- Northridge: Brenden Fulton 18-46-0-238; Silver Creek: Ben Sjobakken 12-14-0-236, Austin Wood 1-1-0-12.
RECEIVING -- Northridge: Jay Frye 8-96, Kayson Werner 3-62, Jaob Lobato 3-52, Dillon Dreher 2-16, Tony Dennis-Lopez 2-12; Silver Creek: Eric Machmuller 5-145, Brock Ricks 2-48, Zane Lindsey 2-16, Nico Rembert 1-13, Anthony Kasper 1-8, Andre Apodaca 2-16.