Matthew Jonas / TIMES CALL
Matthew Jonas / TIMES CALL
LONGMONT — In four of the past five seasons, the Mead football team has taken care of business in its home openers, outscoring opponents by a combined 195-39.
The one exception?
When Lewis-Palmer made the trip north and dealt the Mavericks a 50-35 setback to start the 2016 season.
Mead gained some semblance of payback with a 40-14 season-opening victory at Lewis-Palmer a year ago, but there was still a measure of unfinished business Friday night as the Rangers once again visited Mead for the season opener.
Consider that business now finished as the Mavericks rallied from a 14-6 deficit for a 27-14 non-league home victory over Lewis-Palmer.
Mead, ranked No. 7 in 3A in the preseason, lost 27 seniors — including eight current college players — from a 2017 team that went 11-1 and advanced to the state quarterfinals. But after starting slowly with a largely new crew on Friday, the Mavericks got rolling in the second period and carried the momentum after intermission.
“We have a lot of young kids in there that needed to get their feet wet,” MHS coach Jason Klatt said. “It’s like throwing a bunch of kids in the water that can’t swim. We got them a life preserver real quick and that was it.”
After not having a first down in the first quarter, the Mavericks scored touchdowns on four straight possessions starting in the second period and sandwiched around halftime.
“We started off a little slow, but I knew my guys would come through,” said junior Brady Veltien, who made his first start at quarterback and threw three touchdown passes. “A lot of the guys are really young and needed to adjust to the speed of the game. But I knew when we got that first first down we’d be rolling as a team.”
The first half didn’t decide much, with Lewis-Palmer going into intermission up 14-13, with the difference being a missed extra point attempt by Mead.
But the situation wasn’t that bad considering the Mavericks weren’t moving the ball until the second quarter, had a punt blocked, had a line-drive punt returned to their 19-yard line and drew 40 yards in penalties.
The line-drive punt set up the first of Lewis-Palmer’s two first-half touchdowns. But Mead’s defense kept the damage to a minimum by keeping the Rangers from scoring after driving as far as the MHS 14 and the Mead 19. Sacks by Tanner Leise and Nathan Bailey proved pivotal.
And the Mavericks’ offense came alive in the second quarter, with Bailey scoring on a 17-yard run and K.J. Jacobs on a 16-yard pass from Veltien. MHS’ running game finished with 153 yards in the first half and 273 for the night overall.
Mead grabbed its first lead by taking the opening kickoff of the second half and moving 63 yards, with Veltien hitting Trey Ward with a 20-yard strike in the end zone, making it 20-14 MHS.
And the Mavericks made it back-to-back TDs to start the third with a 61-drive culminated by Veltien throwing it through the hands of a defensive back to Nick Jacobs for an 8-yard TD pass. That gave Mead a 13-point lead that turned out to be the final victory margin.
Lewis-Palmer could have cut that deficit, but on fourth-and-4 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, a wide-open Brayden Curry dropped a pass at the goal line.
“It’s the first game out. You don’t really know what they’re going to do,” Klatt said of his younger players. “It took us a while to get going. But our kids played real hard. They were resilient. They kept playing in wind, rain (and) when we turned the ball over. They just kept playing. I was really proud of them.
“We had a lot of kids that hadn’t been in a varsity-level game. They freak out a little bit and sometimes they start playing street ball. We just had to calm down. “The kids did a great job of persevering and not panicking.”
Senior Ryan Bullock rushed for 115 yards to spark the offense. Defensively, Jay Olson had two sacks and a fumble recovery, Leise two sacks and Ward an interception.
Next up, Mead will face Skyline at Everly-Montgomery Stadium on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.
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Mead 27, Lewis-Palmer 14
Lewis-Palmer (0-1)7700—14Mead (1-0)013140—27
LP — Colton Baroni 1 run (Alex Weaver kick).
Mead — Nathan Bailey 17 run (kick fail). LP — Joel Scott 25 pass from Baroni (Weaver kick). Mead — K.J. Jacobs 16 pass from Brady Veltien (Taylor Kamigaki kick).
Mead — Trey Ward 20 pass from Veltien (Kamigaki kick). Mead — Nick Jacobs 8 pass from Veltien (Kamigaki kick).
RUSHING — LP: Walsh 21-73, Cook 4-24, Martin 2-12, Dewey 4-11, Baroni 4-(-6), Weaver 3-(-10); Mead: Bullock 17-115, Bailey 14-90, Keys 7-59, Edwards 7-24, Veltien 5-(-15).
PASSING — LP: Baroni 4-8-0-66; Weaver 3-10-1-44; Mead: Veltien 5-11-0-93.
RECEIVING — LP: Scott 3-55, Curry 3-31, Cook 1-24; Mead: Keys 1-45, Ward 1-20, Jacobs 1-16, Bullock 1-4.