Near perfection probably would not have been good enough against Pine Creek on Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, the Longmont Trojans didn’t even give itself a chance to achieve that level of play in the Class 4A state championship game at Sports Authority Field. And, as head coach Doug Johnson summed it up eloquently, the Trojans “picked a tough day to have a tough day” in a 45-20 loss to the now two-time defending state champion Eagles.
The top-ranked Eagles punched, galloped and forced their way into the end zone multiple ways on the beautiful Mile High turf while Longmont mistakes hindered Clint Sigg and the LHS offense from ever getting off the ground. Josh Odom ran for 291 yards on just 21 carries, and Pine Creek amassed 483 rushing yards en route to its 25th consecutive win.
Meanwhile, Longmont turned the ball over four times and two of those turned into Pine Creek defensive touchdowns, putting any notion of a rally to rest before halftime.
“We did not play well today, and you couple that with playing a very, very good team and it just got away from us,” Johnson said after the Trojans finished their season 10-4. “I’d love to have another shot at them, but you don’t get two shots. You get one, and a few plays here and there would have made a huge difference.”
Longmont’s offense was zombie-like, though, during the first half of play, and while the defense proved to be fairly solid in the red zone to make up for some big Pine Creek runs through the middle of the field early, the pressure to keep stopping them mounted.
Pine Creek led 10-0 after one quarter, but with just 9 minutes to go in the second stanza, Odom broke free for his third long run of the day, a 28-yarder through several Longmont white shirts to make it 17-0.
Sigg found Eli Sullivan for a 21-yard pass play the first touch on the ensuing possession, and it appeared that perhaps the Trojans were getting comfortable and ready to respond. However, on the very next play, defensive lineman Josh Klyn intercepted Sigg, and that began a string of three possessions that ended badly for Longmont.
Pine Creek made it 24-0 with an 80-yard march capped by a 19-yard TD pass from Tommy Lazzaro to JoJo Domann, and Domann capped off a stellar first half with a 19-yard fumble return for a touchdown with just 27 seconds to go.
“That was our weakness, just not finding it on offense to start,” said Sullivan, who led the team with five catches for 39 yards. “Defense gets a field goal block, but we couldn’t find our groove on offense and it hurt us the rest of the game.”
After mustering just 50 yards of offense in the first 24 minutes, Longmont tried to gather its bearings. The first of Trevor Cook’s two strips led to a Logan Goodner fumble recovery early in the third, and LHS drove all the way to the Pine Creek 11 looking to cut into the lead.
Needing a touchdown, the Trojans still ended up getting skunked as Sigg was sacked on a fourth-and-long play. Pine Creek scored twice more before Longmont could get on the board.
From the very first time the Eagles had the ball, it was evident the running attack was going to make for a long day. Domann broke off a 39-yard run on Pine Creek’s first touch, and they ended up with 10 running plays that went for better than 20 yards.
Odom passed 2,000 yards for the season with his efforts Saturday, proving there weren’t many teams who could stop the senior this season.
“Those big runs are tough to give up and we needed to wrap up better,” said senior Barrett Ingvaldsen, one of the leaders who helped bring the team back from a 1-3 record to win nine straight. “(Odom) was tough to take down, and you just have to give it to their team for coming out harder than we did.”
Conlan Berger scored two touchdowns for Longmont and finished with 98 total yards while playing through pain after breaking his left wrist just two weeks ago. The Trojans tried to get him going early, but he had just five yards on four carries in the first half and did not catch a pass until the third quarter.
The Trojans could have used the much healthier version of Berger, who had accounted for 1,500 yards of offense this season and 17 touchdowns.
“Conlan brought us here, and yeah, he was hurting,” Johnson said. “We switched from one side to the other and made some adjustments for him because he’s that type of player.
“The reality was, he broke his arm two weeks ago and showed a lot of courage to come out and play. He did a lot out there, not being 100 percent obviously. Played with great heart.”
Sigg passed for 157 yards, a big chunk of that coming on a late 60-yard pass completion, but was hindered by an unusual amount of drops from his receivers. Two of his three interceptions went right through the hands of his targets.
A disaster of a day resulted in a mess of tears, but Johnson could not help but reflect on overcoming initial struggles and the results of the season. His players agreed.
“At 1-3, I admit I was one of the ones with my head down, and I have to give it to our seniors for not giving up,” Sullivan said. “We didn’t give up, picked it back up and finished here. It’s bittersweet.”
“Going 1-3 to start, that’s tough for any team, and bouncing back from that is truly something we can hang our hats on,” Ingvaldsen said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to play my last game anywhere else.”
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PINE CREEK 45, LONGMONT 20
At Sports Authority Field
Longmont (10-4) 0 0 6 14 — 20
Pine Creek (14-0) 10 21 14 0 — 45
Pine Creek — JoJo Domann 32 field goal, 2:51. Pine Creek — Tommy Lazzaro 8 run (Domann kick), 0:00.
Pine Creek — Josh Odom 28 run (Domann kick), 9:00. Pine Creek — Domann 19 pass from Lazzaro (Domann kick), 1:23. Pine Creek — Domann 19 fumble return (Domann kick), :27.
Pine Creek — Odom 2 run (Domann kick), 4:10. Pine Creek — Travis Meachum 13 interception return (Domann kick), 4:04. Longmont — Conlan Berger 37 run (kick failed), :13.
Longmont — Berger 1 run (Cooper Rothe kick), 4:37. Longmont — Clint Sigg 2 run (Rothe kick), 1:19.
RUSHING — Longmont: Conlan Berger 10-80, Eli Sullivan 5-27, Clint Sigg 15-22, Ethan Gabrielle 2-19, Logan Goodner 1-0, McCartney Coyle 1-3. Pine Creek: Josh Odom 21-291, Tommy Lazzaro 14-105, JoJo Domann 4-36, Bailey Kuiper 5-29, Avery Anderson 1-11, Connor Miller 1-7, Collin Willis 2-4, Ryen Kahl 3-4, Pete Isais 1-1, Joey Long 1-2, Brock Domann 3-(minus-7).
PASSING — Longmont: Sigg 10-22-3-157, Sullivan 0-1-0-0. Pine Creek: Lazzaro 8-15-1-73
RECEIVING — Longmont: Sullivan 5-39, Trevor Cook 1-33, Gabrielle 1-1, Ryan Rulon 1-6, Dallas Smith 1-60, Berger 1-18. Pine Creek: JoJo Domann 6-70, Jared Savage 1-7, Anderson 1-(minus-4).