LONGMONT — From the first day of the 2015 season, the Longmont Trojans looked like a football team destined for a second straight appearance in the Class 4A state championship game.
The Trojans' undefeated season came undone in the state semifinals on Saturday.
Hosting the Windsor Wizards, the Trojans were unable to score a touchdown for the first time in over three years and fell 12-6. The high expectation of a second shot at a state title in two years made the loss an especially bitter one for the Trojans.
"They did a great job playing against us," Trojans head coach Doug Johnson said. "I'm proud of our kids. I'm super proud of our effort. These are some of the toughest, best kids I've ever coached. I felt like I could have done a better job of getting us in a position to win, so I'm disappointed in myself but I couldn't be more proud of the boys and the other coaches."
Second-seeded Longmont (12-1) had previously defeated third-seeded Windsor (12-1) during the regular season, winning 8-7 on a Hail Mary pass and a successful two-point conversion. The semifinals rematch was a similar thriller on a day when temperatures were in the 20s.
With both defenses in top form, neither team scored until Trojans senior kicker Cooper Rothe broke the stalemate with a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter. Longmont led 3-0 at halftime.
The Trojans defense, which held the Wizards to 156 yards of offense in the game, only gave up two big plays. The biggest was a 49-yard run by senior wideout Landon Schmidt in the third quarter that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by junior linebacker Corte Tapia and gave Windsor a 6-3 lead in the third quarter.
"The two defenses dominated the game," Johnson said. "My hat's off to them and what they did. I'm really proud of our boys and their effort."
Longmont tied the game in the fourth quarter when Rothe hit another field goal, this time from 43 yards out. After the next drive ended in a Windsor punt, what had been a methodical back-and-forth game turned chaotic.
On the first play of Longmont's drive, senior quarterback David Speidel scrambled wide to his left and as he neared the sideline flipped the ball downfield and into the waiting arms of Windsor's Tony Carr, who returned the interception 20 yards to the Longmont 18-yard line. On the opening play of the ensuing Wizards possession, tailback Jacob Shields appeared to have his progress stopped at the line for several seconds but emerged from the crowd and ran eight yards only to fumble the ball back to Longmont with 3 minutes, 45 seconds left in the game.
Given an improbable second chance, Longmont started with the ball at its own 6-yard line. The Trojans called a trick play to start the drive. Wide receiver Eli Sullivan took the hand off and swept wide right looking to throw the ball downfield. Sullivan was tackled at the 1-yard line, fumbled the ball into the end zone and Tapia dove on the ball to score a touchdown and put Windsor up 12-6.
Longmont went 3-and-out on the next drive, punted and got the ball back again but a last-chance heave by Speidel was intercepted and the Wizards ended the game with a few kneel downs.
Speidel completed six passes, all to senior tailback Ethan Gabrielle, for 58 yards. Trojans lead back Conlan Berger rushed 20 times for 76 yards.
Saturday turned out to be a crazy day of football elsewhere in the state, as well. The defending 4A champion Pine Creek Eagles, who defeated Longmont in the 2014 title game, lost their semifinal game to 13th seed Loveland, snapping a 37-game win streak.
Windsor 12, Longmont 6
At Everly-Montgomery FieldLongmont (12-1) 0 3 0 3 — 6
Windsor (12-1) 0 0 6 6 — 12
Longmont — Cooper Rothe 36 field goal.
Windsor — Corte Tapia 3 run (kick missed).
Longmont — Cooper Rothe 43 field goal. Windsor — Corte Tapia recovered fumble in end zone.
RUSHING — Windsor: Landon Schmidt 5-60, Corte Tapia 6-58, Brad Peeples 14-13, Brandon Ramirez 5-13, Jacob Shields 4-12. Longmont: Conlan Berger 20-76, David Speidel 10-29, Logan Goodner 7-28, Ethan Gabrielle 8-23, Eli Sullivan 6-7.
PASSING — Windsor: Brad Peeples 0-3-0-0. Longmont: David Speidel 6-18-2-58.
RECEIVING — Longmont: Ethan Gabrielle 6-58.