LONGMONT - If there was any question the Skyline Falcons were going to be looking past Niwot to next week's showdown with Monarch, the first quarter put those fears to rest.
The Cougars outsnapped Skyline 17-2 at one point in the opening 12 minutes, but big plays and turnovers showed it was a misleading stat thanks to Kyle West. The junior ran a punt back 69 yards and caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Nate McGregor to help the Falcons build an early 21-0 lead on their way to a 57-3 win over Niwot.
West set the tone with his punt return and scoring another touchdown on Skyline's second offensive play.
"I saw great blocking on the right side and tried to utilize my speed, get to the outside and take to the house," West said of his punt return. "(On the second score) the quarterback threw a great ball and I could have walked into the end zone."
Jeremy Hollingsworth rushed 15 times for 152 yards and three touchdowns and McGregor added a 63-yard touchdown run before the half for No. 10 Skyline.
With their crosstown rivals taken care of the Falcons can now focus on the eighth-ranked Coyotes in the opener of the 4A Northern League for both teams.
"It's going to be a tough one," Skyline assistant coach Tim Glenn said. "They got us here last year and it's a physical football game. It's conference season so it's the real season of football."
Niwot (0-5) struggled to contain Skyline's potent offense, and turnovers didn't help. The Cougars turned it over three times in the first half that led to 21 Skyline points. They fumbled three other times but recovered them, although one was in their own end zone for a Falcons safety.
"Mistakes have cost us all season long," Cougars coach Jeremy Lanter said. "When those mistakes happen at the wrong end of the field they can certainly turn the momentum against us."
Niwot had success rushing the ball but couldn't sustain drives. They used a couple of passes from quarterback Matt Baun to get within field goal range, and James Lerner avoided the shutout with a 33-yarder on the game's final snap.
"We don't really focus on the score at this point of the season, it's more about the effort we give and we're giving all we can," Niwot junior Jonathan Colon said.
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Skyline 57, Niwot 3
At Everly-Montgomery FieldNiwot (0-5)0003—3
Skyline — Jeremy Hollingsworth 2 run (Ben Kalishar kick). Skyline — Kyle West 69 punt return (Kalishar kick). Skyline — West 45 pass from Nate McGregor (Kalishar kick).
Skyline — Hollingsworth 1 run (kick failed). Skyline — Hollingsworth 29 run (Kalishar kick). Skyline — Safety, Niwot tackled in end zone. Skyline — McGregor 63 run (Kalishar kick).
Skyline — Jack Wathen 94 kick return (Kalishar kick).
Skyline — Hollingsworth 3 run (Ben Kalishar kick). Niwot — James Lerner 33 field goal.
RUSHING — Niwot: Byron Holmes 9-31, Anton Sandoval 9-24, Matt Baun 7-9, Jonathan Colon 1-2, Shane Timmerman 1-0. Skyline: Jeremy Hollingsworth 15-152, Nate McGregor 1-63.
PASSING — Niwot: Baun 5-12-1-49. Skyline: McGregor 4-5-0-122.
RECEIVING — Niwot: Colon 3-23, Noah Pena 1-17, Nate Nielson 1-9. Skyline: Kyle West 2-62, Andrew Dietz 1-35, Jack Wathen 1-25.