LONGMONT - It was turning into one of those games for Silver Creek. Again.
The Raptors had another lackluster first half on Friday night and they didn't need it - they were locked in a matchup of undefeated teams, against Fort Morgan, to keep at least a piece of the Class 3A Northern League lead with three games to go.
However, the Raptors finally arose and in a big way. Their second-half surge led to a 28-14 home victory at Everly-Montgomery Field, a hard-fought outing among the elite of the mid-range of Colorado's 11-man play.
Now 7-0 overall and 2-0 in league, the Raptors breathed easier afterward, especially after running just 17 plays from scrimmage in the first half against the Mustangs (6-1, 1-1), semifinalists last year.
"The last two games we played pretty crappy in the first half," said Raptors do-it-all senior George Ramirez. "We just have to figure out to start off good. We have to have that energy."
Silver Creek coach Mike Apodaca suspected that "we just tried to do too much, not necessarily schematically, but this is the first time we've been into it (against a top-flight team) and I think we just pressed early."
The pressing ended in the third quarter. After ground-oriented Fort Morgan took a 14-7 lead on the first possession of the second half, the Raptors drove 63 yards and tied it as Dylan Ordway found T.J. Blazon (great football name for a skill player) on a swing pass and Blazon blazed 11 yards for a touchdown.
Fort Morgan then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Raptors took over at the Mustangs 27-yard line and Ordway swung it to Joe Roth-Bogrett, who cruised for a 21-14 lead, one Silver Creek never relinquished.
It was in between two scores by Ramirez - he returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown 7:54 before halftime, then capped it with a 16-yard run after his 1-yard score was negated by penalty.
"He's a real good athlete," Apodaca said of Ramirez. "We know he can play quarterback (Ramirez was operating out of the wildcat formation) and it gives us another dimension."
But Fort Morgan lost some of its dimensions. Running back Tate Kembel, one of the best in class, went out late in the third quarter after some of the game's hardest hitting. Then, with 4:59 to play, quarterback Daylin Knapp was taken off by stretcher after a scramble. The game was delayed and it seemed to underline how physical the play was between some of 3A's toughest programs.
"The thing about us is, we preach next man up and we're not a team, we're a family," Fort Morgan coach Harrison Chisum said. "We made some mistakes and to Silver Creek's credit it capitalized. That's a good football team, well-coached and it beat us."
Chisum added that he was headed to the hospital to check on Knapp, who assistants said had neck pain, but was moving his extremities and gave a thumb's-up sign to his parents.
Keep this in mind - Silver Creek and Fort Morgan, respectively, get Longmont in Weeks 9 and 10.
But Apodaca and his crew have lots to deal with before then.
"We're just happy to get out of here with a W," he said.
Silver Creek 28, Fort Morgan 14
At Everly-Montgomery FieldFort Morgan 0 7 7 0 — 14
Silver Creek 0 7 14 7 — 28
Silver Creek — George Ramirez 35 interception return (Coltan Grabau kick), 7:54. Fort Morgan — Tate Kembel 2 run (John Hochanandel kick), 2:11.
Fort Morgan — George Perea 50 run (Hochanandel kick), 8:04. Silver Creek — T.J. Blazon 12 pass from Dylan Ordway (Grabau kick), 3:44. Silver Creek — Joe Roth-Bogrett 18 pass from Ordway (Grabau kick), 2:16.
Silver Creek — Ramirez 16 run (Grabau kick), 10:51.
RUSHING — Silver Creek: Andreik Knechtel 12-68; Ramirez 5-21; Blazon 3-12.
PASSING — Silver Creek: Ordway 10-of-19, 75 yards, 2 touchdowns 1 interception; Ramirez 1-of-3, 24 yards.
RECEIVING — Silver Creek: Ramirez 4-33; Khari Harrison 3-23; Blazon 2-35; Roth-Bogrett 2-18.