LONGMONT — The first half of the Northern League opener for the Longmont football team went a little south on Thursday night, particularly a late fumble that allowed Thompson Valley to kick a game-tying field goal as the clock expired.
However, as the Trojans have shown the past two weeks now, they're starting to get that four-quarter mentality that they're going to need in one of the toughest leagues in Class 3A.
Avery Peterson's strip fumble on a kickoff early in the third quarter at Everly-Montgomery Field allowed Longmont an opportunity to pull away from the Eagles, and the LHS defense held strong in preserving a second-half shutout in a 25-10 win.
Longmont moved to 4-2 and more importantly started off on the right foot in league play. Thompson Valley, who has played a tough schedule, fell to 1-5.
"Every team in this league is going to be tough, and Thompson Valley proved that just tonight," said sophomore quarterback Oakley Dehning. who had 76 yards rushing and 129 yards passing in the win. "Tonight showed us we're going to have to come out and play our best every time to get wins."
"After the locker room talk we just came out with a fire in our belly," added senior Jerred Snow. "We had stopped them in the first quarter but gave up some plays in the second, so we were hungry to make up for that. when we come together there's nothing we can't do."
Longmont, a team that has struggled with turnovers, had three more of them in the first half. However, Longmont's first score came by way of a good play from Dehning, who wrestled the football away from a TVHS defender after Kobe Martin fumbled deep in Eagles territory. A Kelvin Townsend 2-yard run made it 7-0 with 7 minutes, 12 seconds to go in the first half.
Thompson Valley tied the game on a 66-yard pass play with 1:21 left, and then with just ticks left on the clock took advantage of another LHS fumble as Rafael Castro nailed a 36-yard field goal to make it 10-10.
It was all Longmont from there.
The Trojans marched 68 yards in 15 plays to open the third quarter, taking nearly 7 minutes off the clock and gaining the last lead they would need with a Dehning TD run. On the ensuing kickoff, Peterson got his hands on the football and Longmont was in business again — making it 25-10 with a four-play, 37-yard drive capped by Cruz Garcia's 10-yard run around the edge.
The fourth quarter was marred by penalties on both sides, but the Trojans preserved the shutout with a fourth-down stop with 1:21 to go and Thompson Valley within the LHS 10-yard line.
The Eagles had 75 total yards in the final two quarters.
Townsend had 69 yards to back up Dehning's efforts but Garcia (57), Martin (43) and Drake Engelking (38) all kept the pile moving. Hayden Mosness also had two catches for 79 yards.
"We picked it up as the game went on, and we finished like we wanted to which was important," Dehning said. "We realized at half that we had really better start playing better, it was just such a tight game."
"When we create turnovers, we can shut teams down," Snow said.
Longmont 25, Thompson Valley 10
At Everly-Montgomery FieldT. Valley (1-5, 0-1) 0 10 0 0 — 10
Longmont — Kelvin Townsend 2 run (Avery Peterson kick). Thompson Valley — Braydon Beese 66 pass from Cam Nellor (Rafael Castro kick). Longmont — Peterson 33 field goal. Thompson Valley — Castro 36 field goal.
Longmont — Oakley Dehning 2 run (Dehning run). Longmont — Cruz Garcia 10 run (Peterson kick).
RUSHING — Thompson Valley: Matt Berg 4-20, Mike Berg 7-17, Brayden Beese 1-5, Cam Nellor 1-(minus-6), Aden Shaffer 1-(minus-3). Longmont: Oakley Dehning 17-76, Kelvin Townsend 13-69, Cruz Garcia 9-57, Kobe Martin 11-43, Drake Engelking 9-38.
PASSING — Thompson Valley: Nellor 16-35-0-159. Longmont: Dehning 7-14-1-129.
RECEIVING — Thompson Valley: Beese 6-116, Matt Berg 4-15, Mike Berg 6-28. Longmont: Hayden Mosness 2-79, Martin 2-14, Will Preuss 1-18, Townsend 2-18.