PARKER — Ponderosa scored on a big strike from quarterback Dylan Hollowell in the final minutes of the first half on Saturday afternoon. Longmont answered quickly with an Oakley Dehning Special, using the talented senior’s crisp arm to push inside the 10.
The Trojans, though, settled for a field-goal try in the closing seconds — and it was blocked. And then what looked like a sudden and chaotic reversal of fortune — as a Ponderosa defensive player picked up the blocked kick and fumbled it back to Longmont — turned out to be a nothing, as the Trojans’ scoop-and-run second-chance was marked down just short of the goal line.
No question, No. 12 Longmont continued to fight in the first round of the Class 4A postseason but the results fell short as the Trojans’ season ended with a 50-20 loss to No. 5 Ponderosa at EchoPark Stadium.
“These kids have done everything we asked,” Longmont coach Doug Johnson said. “We weren’t the fastest, we weren’t the biggest, but they did everything we asked them to do.”
Dehning threw for 203 yards and a score and had another 132 yards and a score on the ground in his final game at quarterback for the Trojans (7-4). He finished his career with 4,686 yards through the air and more than a 1,000 on the ground, per MaxPreps.
“He’s an all-star,” Johnson said. “He’s an all-state, all-conference football player. He’s going to be an Ivy League student or an MIT student. Just in every facet —nutrition, commitment — he would tell me things like, ‘I can’t wait to have practice.’ He loves practice. In all facets, he’s been incredible.”
A week after being torched for 72 points by Broomfield, Longmont’s defense contained the high-potent offense of Ponderosa (9-2) most of the opening half to keep the Trojans within reach. It forced two turnovers and held the Mustangs to just 13 points despite PHS getting inside the Longmont 30 its first four trips.
Then came the madness. After a three-and-out from the offense, Hollowell placed a feather pass into the arms of Joe Hufford for a 53-yard touchdown to push the lead to 19-7 with 1:39 left in the half. The other way, Dehning led a quick-strike march with completions of 24 and 40 — but Longmont’s last-second field goal was blocked … and its scoop-and-scramble was ruled down a few feet short of the goal line.
“I think it was a close call,” Johnson said. “But I think they made the right call. I’d have to look at film.”
Out of the half, Longmont responded with a 12-play scoring drive that was capped off with a 2-yard run by Drake Engelking. Ponderosa countered with the next 14 points in a span of 1:19 and eventually 31 straight.
Dehning, leading his team until the end, took the loss on himself.
“(With) the fight we’ve shown all year, if I just hadn’t made a couple mistakes we would have been right there,” said Dehning, who had a few turnovers but also dazzled at times with both his legs and arm. “I’m proud of our guys.”
Ponderosa will face No. 13 Chatfield in the quarterfinals next weekend after the Chargers upset Broomfield in the first round. Longmont finished with a winning record for a 12th straight season.
Brent W. New: email@example.com and @brentwnew
Ponderosa 50, Longmont 20
At EchoPark Stadium
Longmont (7-4) 0 7 7 6 — 20
Ponderosa — Ryder Blair 2 pass from Dylan Hollowell (Matt Waid kick). Ponderosa — Waid 42 field goal.
Longmont — Oakley Dehning 40 run (Cruz Garcia kick). Ponderosa — Waid 34 field goal. Ponderosa — Joe Hufford 53 pass from Hollowell (two-point attempt fails).
Longmont — Drake Engelking 2 run (Garcia kick). Ponderosa — Hollowell 1 run (Waid kick). Ponderosa — Hufford 29 pass from Holloway (Waid kick). Ponderosa — Waid 29 field goal.
Ponderosa — Koby Kercher 10 run (Waid kick). Ponderosa — Kercher 30 run (Waid kick). Longmont — Dallas Dye 8 pass from Dehning.
RUSHING — Longmont: Engelking 23-86, Dehning 18-132, Fieth 3-12, Garcia 2-13, Elkins 2-7.. Ponderosa: Kercher 12-93, Hollowell 7-6, Bille 4-37, Waite 4-15.
PASSING — Longmont: Dehning 17-39-1-203. Ponderosa: Hollowell 16-26-3-282.
RECEIVING — Longmont: Elkins 8-70, Yazzie 3-50, Fieth 2-64, Engelking 2-8, Garcia 1-7, Dye 1-4. Ponderosa: Hufford 6-213, Kline 4-35, Miller 2-18, Bille 1-10, Babb 1-5, Blair 1-2, Kercher 1-(minus-2),