BOULDER — With the type of first half the 8th-ranked Fairview football team put together on Friday night, the Knights would typically expect to finish off just about any team.
Even a No. 2 Mullen Mustangs that just beat No. 5 Columbine in overtime the previous week.
Shutting out the visiting Mustangs in the first half, the Knights built a 23-point halftime lead. But after halftime, whatever magic the Knights had in the first half seemingly jumped locker rooms and the explosive Mustangs caught fire to win 37-30.
"What hurts is that when you have some leads you hope you're going to make enough plays to finish and win the game," Knights head coach Tom McCartney said. "We just weren't able to make enough plays at the end. I'm super proud of them for fighting and battling and believing but it's going to hurt a little bit when you blow a lead."
Before halftime the Knights (6-2, 1-2 Mt. Cameron), who averaged just over 37 points through the first seven games, scored on a pair of short runs from running back Mariano Kemp and three field goals from Tevye Schuettpelz-Rohl, which he hit from 41, 21 and 26 yards out.
Meanwhile, the Knights defense kept the Mustangs (6-2, 3-0 Mt. Cameron) off the scoreboard, forcing three punts and a turnover on downs, recovering a fumble and holding Mustangs quarterback Jovan Tafoya to 14 passing yards on 10 attempts. Sophomore defensive back Bryce DesJardines also intercepted a deep pass and returned it to the two-yard line that set up Kemp's second touchdown on the next play.
Mullen, however, opened the second half with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended in an 8-yard scoring run from running back Marcus McElroy Jr., who rushed for 291 yards in the game including a 76-yard score in the third quarter. The Mustangs, who outscored the Knights 23-0 in the fourth quarter, tied the game with 3 minutes, 57 seconds left and took the lead with 2:16 remaining.
Despite the explosive Mustangs' many deep passing attempts, the Fairview secondary allowed just one completion of over 12 yards and held the Mustangs to 164 totals passing yards. But late in the game, the state's No. 2 team just proved to be too big and too fast.
"We knew that that's what they like," McCartney said. "When you have a great 0-line that can give you time and you've got a four-year starter a QB and you've got big-time receivers who are going to play at the next level, we knew that's what they like to do. And of course, if you're trying to stop the tailback they can catch you in coverages. We made a lot of plays but we just didn't make enough at the end."
Mullen 37, Fairview 30
At Recht FieldMullen 0 0 14 23 — 37
Fairview 10 13 7 0 — 30
Fairview — Mariano Kemp 1 run (Tevye Schuettpelz-Rohl kick). Fairview — Scheuttpelz-Rohl 41 field goal.
Fairview — Schuettpelz-Rohl 31 field goal. Fairview — Kemp 2 run (Schuettpelz-Rohl kick). Fairview — Schuettpelz-Rohl 36 field goal.
Mullen — Marcus McElroy Jr. 8 run (Vincent Saurini kick). Fairview — Tommy Wakefield 20 pass from Jake Willemsen (Schuettpelz-Rohl kick). Mullen — McElroy Jr. 76 run (Saurini kick). Mullen — Will Henderson 12 pass from Jovan Tafoya (McElroy Jr. run). Mullen — Henderson 69 pass from Tafoya (Henderson pass from Tafoya). Mullen — McElroy Jr. 17 run (Saurini kick).
RUSHING — Mullen: Marcus McElroy Jr. 29-291, A'jon Vivens 8-22, Alonzo Moon 2-9, Zach Krause 2-3, Jovan Tafoya 2-(-14). Fairview: Mariano Kemp 7-17, Jake Willemsen 11-(-9), Quinn Sharp 1-0.
PASSING — Mullen: Jovan Tafoya 16-32-1-164. Fairview: Jake Willemsen 16-38-0-282, Cliffy Smith 1-2-0-5.
RECEIVING — Mullen: Wind Henerson 6-111, Justice Lucia-Lobo 4-33, A'jon Vivens 5-18, Marcus McElroy Jr. 1-2. Fairview: Tommy Wakefield 4-106, Quinn Sharp 4-50, Connor Twist 2-12, David McWilliams 6-88, Max Ward 1-31.