LONGMONT -- One month ago to the day on Friday, the Longmont football team owned a 1-3 record. The Trojans had lost three consecutive games, including two straight contests to teams currently ranked in the top three in the state in Class 3A.
Since being in that predicament on Sept. 27, LHS has done an about-face to avoid its first season-long losing record since 2006.
On Friday night at Everly Montgomery Field, 3A ninth-ranked Longmont won its fifth game in a row, 28-7 over city rival Silver Creek on LHS' senior night. Over that five-game stretch, the Trojans have outscored their opponents by a combined 222-66.
"It's an exhilarating feeling," said senior Austin Hassler, one of several Longmont defensive players who made big plays in Silver Creek's backfield on Friday. "We pushed each other all week. We came out here and expected nothing less (than to win).
"I think we took a look in the mirror (after being 1-3). We beat (defending state champion) Pueblo East (in the opener) and our heads got full. We got a reality check, and we knew we had to change something or our season was going to be over."
And, now, after the five-game winning streak, a victory next Friday at Fort Morgan would give Longmont (6-3 overall, 4-0 in league play) the 3A Northern League title.
"It's awesome," LHS coach Doug Johnson said of the possibility. "We're in the playoffs if we win that game. (Otherwise) we leave it up to a point system that left a 9-1 team out of the playoffs last year. We want to make sure we play our best football next week."
Friday's game got a little out of hand in the second half. Besides flags galore, Silver Creek head coach Mike Apodaca was ejected with 57 seconds remaining in the third quarter after complaining -- correctly -- that what should have been a Longmont fourth-down play was listed as third down on the sideline down marker. Longmont received a first down thanks to the penalty and went on to score its final TD.
While Longmont has been surging of late, Silver Creek (4-5, 1-3) has dropped five of its last six games. The Raptors came into Friday in the No. 20 RPI spot in 3A, which takes 16 teams into the playoffs.
The Raptors only averted a shutout in the final two minutes on Friday, when QB Collin Black floated a 4-yard TD pass to Spencer Rich.
The Trojans scored touchdowns the first two times they had the ball on Friday, needing to drive just 41 yards -- after Silver Creek's initial drive netted minus-19 yards after penalties -- and 34 yards. Both Longmont TDs came via 14-yard runs, by Jaydon Elkins and Drake Engelking.
But defense was the main story for LHS as it held Silver Creek to 34 yards of offense in the first half, intercepted a pass and sacked Raptors QB Collin Black three times.
Hassler set the stage for Longmont's second touchdown by nailing SC running back Brandon Harper for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-1 at the Raptors 34-yard line. Six players later Engleking's score and 2-point conversion put Longmont up 14-0.
"I think our defense was lights out," Johnson said. "Austin Hassler is an amazing football player. He was all over the field tonight. Our seniors were outstanding tonight. They do a great job for us."
For the night, Silver Creek managed just 91 yards of total offense. Longmont recorded five sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Danny Nichols, Telvin Townsend, Bryan Blanks and Hassler got in on the sack attack, while Grant Rulon and Blanks picked off passes and Townsend scoped up a fumble.
Meanwhile, Silver Creek's Trevor Riters intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble in the first half.
Next up, Longmont closes out the regular season at Fort Morgan next Friday at 7 p.m., while Silver Creek hosts Thompson Valley on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
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Longmont 28, Silver Creek 7
At Everly-Montgomery FieldSilver Creek0007—7
Longmont — Jaydon Elkins 14 run (pass fail). Longmont — Drake Engelking 14 run (Engelking run).
Longmont — Sage Yazzie 30 pass from Oakley Dehning (Cruz Garcia kick).
Longmont — Elkins 7 pass from Dehning (Garcia kick). Silver Creek — Spencer Rich 4 pass from Collin Black (Coltan Grabau kick).
RUSHING — Silver Creek: Harper 13-32, Knechtel 2-9, Olinger 1-1, Rodriguez 1-(-5), Black 9-(-14). Longmont: Drake Engelking 19-54, Jaydon Elkins 5-36, Cruz Garcia 11-18, Dylan Stott 2-4, Yazzie 3-(-3), Dehning 6-(-3), Hart 1-(-15).
PASSING — Silver Creek: Black 6-19-2-65. Longmont: Oakley Dehning 9-16-1-84
RECEIVING — Silver Creek: Blazon 3-40, Miller 1-13, Harper 1-8, Rich 1-4. Longmont: Elkins 4-33, Fieth 3-13, Yazzie 2-43.