DENVER —The first time Eli Sullivan touched the ball on Saturday afternoon, he broke into the clear and appeared to have a sure touchdown down the right sideline on Longmont’s first offensive snap of the day.
But despite open field in front of him, Sullivan took a look back to check on a defender and stepped out of bounds at the 6 yard line.
That was the only misstep the 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior defensive back had all day, however, as he would later score three touchdowns, including the first two pick-sixes of his high school career, to lead the Trojans to a 48-14 win over Denver South.
“On any day it could be anybody on our defense,” said Sullivan, who also plays basketball and track for Longmont. “I’m pretty proud of our whole defense. It just came down to they threw the ball to my side today and I picked it off and took it.”
With the Trojans defensive front stuffing the Rebels rushing attack, Denver South went to the air early using a rotating quarterback system. The Rebels Aaron Knox completed his first two pass attempts, but then tried his luck against Sullivan after driving his team near midfield.
Sullivan stepped in front of the pass and returned it 52 yards for a score, giving Longmont a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
“I read the receivers eyes and made a good break,” Sullivan said. “The ball came up a little bit short and the receiver slipped and I was able to get it.”
Sullivan, who also sees time as a receiver and in the offensive backfield, added a four-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter to push the halftime lead to 35-7.
Sullivan picked up his second interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter, this time picking off Amon Wright and going 80 yards to invoke the mercy rule after giving the Trojans a 48-7 lead.
“It was just in my spot, in my zone,” Sullivan said. “They tried to throw it right over. Even if that had gone right over my head I knew (Cooper Rothe) was there to make the tackle.”
Longmont coach Doug Johnson wasn’t surprised by Sullivan’s big day, saying he’s a player he’s been able to count on since he was a freshman.
“Eli’s been there for four years, he’s started for four years,” Johnson said. “He does everything well. We’ve needed him to play on defense this year, step up on defense and he’s stepped right in.
“He’s got all the tools, he’s very smart and very coachable.”
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