GREELEY — Insane. Chaotic. Stunning.
Any adjective you could think to describe this game would work.
Good for Niwot and senior quarterback Bryan Meek that they can add “victorious” to that list of adjectives.
Through almost three quarters of the Cougars’ game with host Greeley West on Friday night, seemingly anything and everything went wrong. Then all of a sudden the momentum started to shift the way of Niwot, capped by a 32-yard Meek touchdown pass to Jessie Slepicka for the eventual game-winner to make give the Cougars a 16-13 victory.
Of course this contest couldn’t end easy. The way the rest of the game went, those in attendance at District 6 Stadium had to expect the Spartans to make it interesting.
And did they ever, coming up 4 yards shy of the winning touchdown as time expired.
“It was a little frustrating how we played in the first half,” Meek said. “But it was admirable how we played in the second half. It was cool to be a part of it.”
In that first half, no matter what the senior quarterback and his team did, it was answered — in a big way. From the start of this game, one got the sense Niwot was out of sync offensively. Even when the Cougars would start to put a drive together, either a penalty or big play from the Spartans negated any momentum. Not until a David Voss 31-yard field goal late in the second quarter did the Cougars get on the board.
The rushing attack and the passing game just couldn’t get it together.
But Niwot (2-1) knew if it continued to fight and not throw in the towel, it would have a puncher’s chance.
“We’re bigger fighters than I thought,” Meek said. “I knew we had fight in us, but this proves it.”
Meek did all he could to make this a great night. He finished with a team-high 12 carries for 31 yards and was 15-of-30 passing for 196 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The main target for Meek was Slepicka, who finished with eight catches for 110 yards and that key touchdown late in the game.
“We knew prior to the game it would be a tough one,” Niwot coach Josh Brewer said. “We just needed to make a little adjustment and here there. And we came out in the second half and played our butts off.”
The main reason Niwot stayed in this game is the play of its defense.
Aside from a touchdown early in the contest, the Cougars held Greeley West in check with two field goals in the first half and kept the Spartans (0-4) off the board entirely in the second half. Not to mention that huge stop at the 4-yard line to end the game.
“We have a great team, we just need to come out strong,” Slepicka said. “If we come out strong, we can play with anyone. This is a stepping stone for the greatness this team possess.”
For Greeley West, it’s just another tough loss in a season sliding the wrong way. But if not for the effort of senior quarterback Zeke Rodriguez, matters would have been worse.
He finished with 18 carries for 51 yards and 10 for 23 passing for 119 yards and a touchdown.
“(Greeley West) battled,” Spartans coach Jason Renouf said. “I was proud of their effort — we just made too many mistakes. Every game we’ve played, we’ve played four quarters. We just have to keep learning and getting better. It’s coming.”
It’s great for Meek and Niwot that this crazy game ended in such glorious way.
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Niwot 16, Greeley West 13
At District 6 Stadium.
Niwot (2-1) 0 3 7 6 — 16
Greeley West (0-4, 0-0) 10 3 0 0 — 13
Greeley West — Aron Krautschun 27 pass from Zeke Rodriguez (Ben Roadcap kick).
Greeley West — Roadcap 22 field goal.
Greeley West — Roadcap 37 field goal.
Niwot– David Voss 31 field goal.
Niwot — Alex Kinnison 44 pass from Bryan Meek (Voss kick).
Niwot — Jessie Slepicka 32 pass from Meek (Voss kick missed).
RUSHING — Niwot: Bryan Meek 12-31, Jack Setter 6-1; Greeley West: Zeke Rodriguez 18-51, TJ Wertz 14-58, Alex Delacroix 1-1.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Niwot: Meek 15-30-1 196.; Greeley West: Rodriguez 10-23-0 119.
RECEIVING — Niwot: Jesse Slepicka 8-110, Alex Kinnison 4-55, Elijah Noterman 2-5, Sonny May 1-7; Greeley West: Aron Krautschun 4-72, Darren Delacroix 2-18, Wertz 2-17, Zach Lish 1-7, Joel Huskerson 1-5.