LONGMONT — If it is true that defense does in fact win championships, then the Longmont Trojans will get to prove it next week.
On Saturday in the Class 4A semifinals at Everly-Montgomery Field, coach Doug Johnson’s team got timely fourth-down stops, big interceptions and just flat-out kept Broomfield off balance.
It all added up to a 21-14 victory over the Eagles and gave Longmont its first trip to the state title game since 2009. The Trojans will play top-seeded and defending champion Pine Creek — a 34-14 winner over upstart Falcon in the other semifinal — out of Colorado Springs on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
“To be honest, we’ve been in the playoffs since Week 4,” said senior Barrett Ingvaldsen, whose team started 1-3 this season. “We just fought and we know how to play in the playoffs.”
Broomfield, which won the regular season matchup in Week 3 against Longmont, finishes the season 9-4.
It was Broomfield that set the tone early. The Eagles did what they do by pounding the ball on the ground and mixing in a timely pass to keep the defense off-balance. Their opening drive went 82 yards and ate up over six minutes of the first-quarter clock after Logan McCormick scored from six yards out.
It appeared as though the game might be a shootout after Longmont quickly responded with an impressive drive of their own. The Trojans cut the lead to 7-6 on McCartney Coyle’s one-yard plunge.
With Broomfield driving right back down the field on its next possession, somebody had to make a play and on fourth-and-two deep in their own end, the Trojans got a huge open-field tackle from Ethan Hitchcock on McCormick that may very well have turned the tide for the rest of the game.
“Enormous. Just enormous,” said Johnson of the big stop. “I just can’t say enough about our effort from one to 80 in our group. Defensively, we saw something in the scouting report, and they got us on it on the first one, but on the second Hitchcock showed up and made that huge play.”
The Trojans didn’t do much with it when they got the ball back and in fact a 19-yard punt of the foot of Eli Sullivan set up Broomfield with great field position.
The Eagles were able to drive it into the red zone, but facing another fourth-down on the Trojans 15, McCormick was again stopped before the line to gain, this time by senior Logan Green.
“We had opportunities early and it’s cliche I know, but that is a good football team and you’re not going to get a lot of opportunities to capitalize,” Broomfield coach Gary Davies said. “I think that, more than anything, was the story of the game.”
Longmont took the lead for good just before halftime. Quarterback Clint Sigg, whose playoff run has been a thing of beauty, directed a masterful drive. He hit four different receivers on an 11-play, 67-yard drive that ended when he found his favorite target, Sullivan, for a 17-yard score.
The defense would do the rest.
“After that opening drive, we just decided not to play flat anymore,” junior linebacker Logan Goodner said. “The butterflies got to us a little bit on that, but once they flew away we played like the defense we knew we were.”
With Broomfield hanging around in the fourth quarter, still down only 14-7, it was Ingvaldsen that made another huge play. He made the first of two fourth-quarter interceptions on McCormick and set his offense up with a short field at the Broomfield 17-yard line.
“They call the calls and we just execute the best we can, it just happened to be that I was in on some of those big plays that helped determine the game,” said Ingvaldsen, who also recovered a fumble on the next Broomfield possession. “I’ve got to give up to my teammates executing, you know, you do the little things and some big things will happen.”
Sigg scored two plays later from 10-yards out and the Trojans finally had a more comfortable two-score lead at 21-7.
Broomfield didn’t just roll over. McCormick threw his second interception, but on the very next play a huge hit in the hole jarred the ball loose from Ethan Gabrielle and the Eagles were right back in business. McCormick hit Dante Panicucci from 21-yards out to cut the lead to 21-14 with 1 minute, 11 seconds to play.
The Eagles’ onside kick failed to go even five yards and that allowed the Trojans to take a deep breath and celebrate the fact they were going to play at Mile High.
“We believed we could. We’ve been talking about it. You’ve got to have faith,” said Johnson of his team’s never-say-die attitude after the 1-3 start to the season. “Faith is being sure what you hope for and uncertain of what you do not see.”
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Longmont 21, Broomfield 14
At Everly-Montgomery Field
Broomfield (9-4) 7 0 0 7 — 14
Longmont (10-3) 6 8 0 7 — 21
Broomfield — Logan McCormick 6 run (Bryan Tanigawa kick).
Longmont — McCartney Coyle 1 run (pass failed).
Longmont — Eli Sullivan 17 pass from Clint Sigg (Sigg run).
Longmont — Sigg 10 run (Cooper Rothe kick).
Broomfield — Dante Panicucci 21 pass from McCormick (Tanigawa kick).
RUSHING — Broomfield: Logan McCormick 16-52, Jalon Torres 11-39, Nate Knowles 7-38, Jack Sherwood 2-5. Longmont: Ethan Gabrielle 10-75, Clint Sigg 14-58, David Speidel 8-35, Eli Sullivan 5-19, McCartney Coyle 3-5.
PASSING — Broomfield: McCormick 12-24-2-164, Jack Burgesser 2-3-0-17. Longmont: Sigg 18-25-1-173.
RECEIVING — Broomfield: Payton Holloway 5-72, Dante Panicucci 5-62, Nate Lehnerz 4-47. Longmont: Sullivan 7-78, Filippo Swartz 3-44, Gabrielle 3-14, Coyle 2-16, Dallas Smith 1-9, Ryan Rulon 1-9, Trevor Cook 1-3.