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ARVADA — Well, at least it was quite a bit better than last time.

The Longmont football team, however, needed things to be pronouncedly better this time around against Ralston Valley.

Things were improved in that the Trojans found the end zone a few times Friday night at the North Area Athletic Complex, but that didn’t prevent another double-digit loss, this one 44-29, to the Class 5A No. 7 Mustangs.

“I’m proud that we didn’t quit fighting this time,” Longmont running back Drake Greeott said. “Last year when they got up by a couple touchdowns, we just crumbled. This year, we stayed strong to the end.”

Exactly one year to the day of Ralston Valley’s 41-3 season-opening shellacking at Longmont last season, the Trojans knew they’d have their hands full again.

Ralston Valley was coming off an impressive 43-0 Zero Week trouncing of Mullen and has its sights set on challenging for the big-school crown. Mustangs running back Andrew Wingard ran wild, scoring on touchdown runs of 79. 55, 7 and 12 while racking up 164 yards on the ground.

Mustangs standout quarterback Jacob Knipp also did his thing with little difficulties, completing 22 of 26 passes for 235 yards and a 25-yard touchdown to tight end Collin Root. Knipp, who did not misfire on 13 second-half attempts, also opened the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown run on Ralston Valley’s second play from scrimmage.

“He’s unbelievable,” Longmont coach Doug Johnson said. “If you blitz him, he escapes it and hits somebody. If you let him hang, he’ll hold on to the ball forever until he finds his guy. He does not get rattled.”

When Greeott (15 carries, 87 yards) plunged in from one yard out midway through the second quarter, the Trojans were in striking distance at 14-6. But by the time Longmont scored again — it was a 9-yard run by quarterback Clint Sigg — it only carved the deficit to 36-13.

Conlan Berger added two late touchdown runs for the Trojans (0-1), which made the final score appear more aesthetic. At its most lopsided early in the third quarter, Ralston Valley was in command 36-6.

This time, though, the rout didn’t continue. Longmont showed grit, knowing a strong finish to the game would allow the Trojans to move forward with positive feelings in place.

“I get that, but we’re trying to win this game,” Johnson said. “We tried to weather the storm so we could make a play and get back in it. We want to be able to make that big play, and I think we can with a few corrections.”

Sigg was forced into a starting role in the opener last season with then-starter Forrest Wetterstrom serving a suspension, but it was Sigg’s ballgame all the way this time. He showed remarkable poise in the pocket and deftly navigated the offense, although the only explosion play he connected on was a 56-yard pass to Ryan Bant-Cogburn.

The problem for the Trojans was they couldn’t stop Ralston Valley (2-0). The Mustangs compiled a remarkably balanced 483 yards (248 rushing, 235 passing). But Longmont understands that this might have been the toughest confrontation on the regular-season schedule and things will quickly even out.

“This was our first challenge and it was our goal to beat them,” Greeott said. “Since we came this close, I know we can only get better from here.”

Follow Paul on Twitter: Twitter.com/PaulWillis21

Ralston Valley 44, Longmont 29

At North Area Athletic Complex

Longmont (0-1) 0 6 7 16 — 29

Ralston Valley (2-0) 14 14 16 0 — 44

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter

Ralston Valley — Jacob Knipp 19 run (Derek Wingard run).

Ralston Valley — Wingard 79 run (run failed).

Second Quarter

Longmont — Drake Greeott 1 run (run failed).

Ralston Valley — Collin Root 25 pass from Knipp (Anthony Falbo pass from Knipp).

Ralston Valley — Jacob Knipp 19 run (Derek Wingard run).

Wingard 55 run (pass failed).

Third Quarter

Ralston Valley — Wingard 7 run (Falbo run).

Longmont — Clint Sigg 9 run (Cooper Rothe kick).

Ralston Valley — Wingard 12 run (Wingard run).

Fourth Quarter

Longmont — Conlan Berger 1 run (Greeott pass from Sigg).

Longmont — Berger 14 run (Sigg run).

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Longmont: Greeott 15-87, Sullivan 12-72, Sigg 20-49, Berger 6-30, McCabe 2-4. Ralston Valley: Wingard 9-164, Knipp 6-65, Wells 7-16, Baumann 1-3.

PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Longmont: Sigg 12-23-0, 118 yards; Ralston Valley: Knipp 22-26-1, 235 yards

RECEIVING — Longmont: Sullivan 4-37, Berger 5-19, Bant-Cogburn 1-56, Greeott 1-11, Zuege 1-6; Ralston Valley: Root 5-77, Morales 5-56, Gregston 4-46, Wingard 3-17, Falbo 1-14, Pribble 1-7, Wells 1-7, Meadows 1-7, Miller 1-4.

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