LONGMONT — The Longmont football team came into Friday night's game having had some difficulties suppressing the passing game on defense this season, and Brighton's Robbie Coffin had the tools to make it another long night in that regard at Everly-Montgomery Stadium.
Yet despite surrendering nearly 300 yards to Coffin in the first half alone in their 4A Northern League game, Longmont's ground control approach helped overcome three turnovers, 15 penalties and the opponent's aerial assault in a 28-21 home win that puts LHS at 6-2 on the season.
Oakley Dehning threw two interceptions, but it was his 27-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that broke a 21-21 tie game and sent LHS to 2-1 in league with just two weeks left in the regular season.
Sitting at No. 10 in the 4A RPI coming in, a win over the No. 13 RPI Bulldogs was crucial in their path to potential playoffs.
"It would be nice not to have so many close ones, and we've had these nailbiters throughout the season, but resiliency seems to be a theme of our season," Dehning said after finishing with 96 rushing yards, 73 of those after halftime. "It keeps showing, and especially on senior night with playoff implications, we knew we just couldn't give this one up."
There was no pulling away from Brighton (4-4, 1-2) until the clock read all zeroes. Coffin had a strong connection with wideout Drake Cortez all evening long, and a final drive for the Bulldogs netted 64 yards but no tying score giving Trojans head coach Doug Johnson a chance to breathe again.
"I don't know why we keep it so darn close," Johnson said. "We had our chances opportunities to put the game away, and that's me not doing a good job of coaching them up in those situations and that's got to change. But I'm so proud of all our kids and their efforts when we needed it at the end."
Coffin, the league's leading passer coming in, added another 56 attempts to his statistics and finished with 508 yards. Cortez caught 12 passes for 358 of those yards, and it was his 8-yard touchdown catch with 9:21 left in the game that brought it to a tie for the first time.
But Longmont continued to be able to move the pile behind Dehning, Drake Engelking and Beck Fieth. Fieth had a key 34-yard run on Longmont's final scoring drive, and Dehning was hardly touched as we went right up the gut to recapture the lead for his team.
The Trojans threw the ball just three times in the second half, and their group of rushers — which also included Cruz Garcia — churned up 494 yards in all. Engelking had 266 yards on 38 carries, and Garcia had a 15-yard TD run in the third quarter that had LHS ahead 21-14.
Longmont had 36 first downs to Brighton's 15, but the Bulldogs secured nine plays of at least 20 yards. The Trojans were stopped twice inside the Brighton 1-yard line with no points, certainly something Johnson said came back to haunt them.
Longmont will play its remaining two games on the road, beginning at Mountain View next Thursday night.
Longmont 28, Brighton 21
At Everly-Montgomery FieldBrighton (4-4, 1-2)7707—21Longmont (6-2, 2-1)8767—28
Longmont — Drake Engelking 3 run (Oakley Dehning run). Brighton — Eli Bowman 39 pass from Robbie Coffin (James Thomas kick).
Longmont — Engelking 6 run (Cruz Garcia kick). Brighton — Drake Cortez 63 pass from Coffin (Thomas kick).
Longmont — Garcia 15 run (kick failed).
Brighton — Cortez 8 pass from Coffin (Thomas kick). Longmont — Oakley Dehning 27 run (Garcia kick).
RUSHING — Longmont: Drake Engelking 38-266, Oakley Dehning 12-96, Beck Fieth 7-79, Sage Yazzie 4-26, Cruz Garcia 2-27.
PASSING — Longmont: Dehning 4-10-2-52.
RECEIVING — Longmont: Engelking 2-27, Fieth 1-9, Dallas Dye 1-16.