LAFAYETTE — This time, as the clocked ticked away, it wasn’t a good thing for the Monarch football team.
The Coyotes season expired Saturday with a 21-7 loss to Pine Creek in the Class 4A semifinals at Warrior Stadium, where the visiting Eagles came in and essentially defeated the Coyotes at their own smash-mouth game.
It put a halt to Monarch’s sterling season, in which the Coyotes had instituted a running clock (40-point lead) on its previous seven opponents. It also officially expired Monarch’s aspirations to defend their 2012 state title, as Pine Creek moved on to take on Montrose in next weekend’s title game at Sports Authority Field.
“We knew they’d play us tough, but we made some mistakes on both sides of the ball,” Monarch coach Phil Bravo said. “We had some special-teams blunders which we haven’t done in eight weeks. A lot of it had to do with things that they did, but at the same time, it was untimely mistakes in the semifinals and some of the things we did incorrectly.”
A telling statistic that usually sees Monarch (10-2) on the positive side of the ledger was the rushing totals of each team: Pine Creek compiled 391 compared to a mere 131 for the Coyotes.
“They stopped the pitch,” Monarch fullback Braden Pape said. “We’re not a one-dimensional team this year, but when they got two three-and-outs in a row, it got in our heads a little bit. But I don’t know how much was in our head rather than they just outperformed us today.”
It marked the second time in three seasons that Pine Creek has eliminated the Coyotes in the semis. The Eagles also eliminated Monarch with a 20-0 home win in 2011. This one had a similar feel for a while, but Monarch finally erased its goose egg against the Eagles.
After a difficult two-plus quarters, Monarch recaptured some of its vigor when quarterback Jay MacIntyre electrified the home faithful with a 96-yard kickoff return to trim the Pine Creek deficit to 14-7 — much to the delight of his father and University of Colorado football coach Mike MacIntyre, who attended the game.
Monarch got the ball back and, after gaining a mere 64 yards in the first half, put together an 18-play, 69-yard drive. Problem was, Pine Creek stopped the Coyotes on downs at the 11, when Pape was held to two yards on a 4th-and-3 play.
Behind running back Austin Schultz, Pine Creek marched down the field and put it away with a 3-yard TD run by Matt List. Schultz had a 55-yard carry on the drive and finished with 189 yards on 16 attempts.
“We wanted to come out and throw the ball and that went in the sink pretty early, and we just started running,” Pine Creek coach Todd Miller said.
Monarch star running back Ethan Marks was mostly bottled up and earned a hard-fought 54 yards on 22 carries. He finished the season with 1,621 yards and his Coyotes career with 4,806, but Pine Creek never allowed him more than six yards on a single carry.
“We had some big stops on defense but we couldn’t flip it over on offense and get the ball moving,” Bravo said. “Up front they did a lot of good stuff against us to manhandle us on the line of scrimmage with their defensive line.”
“We thought we made some good adjustments and made it a better ballgame in the second half. But doggone it, we just couldn’t find a way to get it done.”
Pine Creek used seven different ball carriers, a concept Bravo said the Coyotes were prepared for from watching film. But the Eagles got good push up front and averaged about eight yards per carry.
“That’s Pine Creek football; that’s what we do,” said Schultz, who gained 136 yards in the second half. “We try to control it. It was a great game plan that our coaches had, and our fullback (Lavanson Coffey) and our O-line just punished them.”
Eagles quarterback Tommy Lazzaro scored an odd touchdown in the third quarter, when he fumbled as he crossed the goal line. A Pine Creek teammate recovered the fumble at the 4, which seemingly set up a 4th-and-goal. But officials huddled and soon ruled that Lazzaro had crossed the plane, which made it 14-0.
That was quickly forgotten after MacIntyre’s ensuing return, but the Eagles’ final 89-yard drive after stopping Monarch’s attempt to pull even ultimately redacted the Coyotes from the playoff bracket.
“When we got that big stop from our defense on fourth down, that really gave us the momentum we needed,” Lazzaro said. “When we got the ball back we knew we had to chew up some time because Monarch is a great team and they score a lot of points.”
Had Monarch won, the Coyotes would have had a chance to avenge their lone regular-season loss, a 39-34 decision to Montrose. The Indians defeated Pueblo South 39-38 in double-overtime in the other semifinal. Pape said he wished Pine Creek luck in the title game and will root for them.
Bravo said bidding farewell to the departing senior class, many of which were key contributors to the 2012 title, is “the most painful element of losing.”
“These are some of the classiest and most intelligent men I’ve ever been around and it hurts to lose them,” he said. “I owe them a lot of gratitude for their effort, and the fact that I knew them as men will only greaten my life.”
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Pine Creek 21, Monarch 7
At Warrior Stadium
Pine Creek (11-2) 7 0 7 7 — 21
Monarch (10-2) 0 0 7 0 — 7
Pine Creek — Austin Schultz 1 run (Ian Fletcher kick)
Pine Creek — Tommy Lazzaro 6 run (Fletcher kick).
Monarch — Jay MacIntyre 96 kickoff return (Pat Nasiatka kick).
Pine Creek — Matt List 3 run (Fletcher kick).
RUSHING — Pine Creek: Schultz 16-189, Savage 8-63 Anderson 8-42, Lazzaro 7-42, Adkins 6-37, List 2-10, Coffey 2-8; Monarch: Marks 22-54, Pape 8-40, MacIntyre 11-35, Bubernak 2-2.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Pine Creek: Lazzaro 2-7-0-34; Monarch: 0-4-1-0.
RECEIVING — Pine Creek: Adkins 1-27, Anderson 1-7; Monarch: None.