Football: Pueblo East rallies late to upend Longmont in season opener

Yazzie accounts for 221 yards of offense

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Eddie Kurjak has his pass broken up by Jaxson Herring during the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Christian Hart lines up on the line of scrimmage during the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Dylan Stott dives over a defensive player while running the ball during the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School quarterback Sage Yazzie, right, celebrates a touchdown with teammates during the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Keegan Patterson throws a pass during the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School quarterback Sage Yazzie throws a pass during the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School quarterback Sage Yazzie rushes the ball during the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School quarterback Sage Yazzie runs for a long touchdown in the beginning of the first quarter during the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Caleb Johnson runs the ball during the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School senior Sam Arriola plays the marimba with the marching band during the halftime show of the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

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LONGMONT — Since 2014, the Longmont and Pueblo East football teams have kicked off each new season with an opener that features two of the premier programs in Colorado’s 3A and 4A classifications.

In the first five meetings, the teams alternated victories until Pueblo East found a 3-2 edge in the North-South Colorado classic. In Thursday night’s most recent edition, which was played at Everly-Montgomery Field, Pueblo East got the better of Longmont for the second straight year.

Longmont High School's Dylan Stott dives ...
Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
Longmont High School’s Dylan Stott dives over a defensive player while running the ball during the opening game against Pueblo East on Thursday in Longmont.

The Eagles won, but just barely, 26-22.

“Pueblo East has a great program over there and I’d definitely call it a rivalry at this point,” Longmont senior Sage Yazzie said. “We respect the heck out of those guys. They’re a great team, they’re polite to us and it’s just such a great way to wake up for the season. It puts us in a great place moving forward. I’m just so proud of our team because we had a lot of young guys stepping up and we fought through a hard game out there.”

Pueblo East (1-1) led 20-14 at halftime and both teams battled through a scoreless third quarter that lasted almost exactly as long as the first two combined. Beginning with 27 seconds left in the third quarter, the Trojans (0-1) put together a 17-play, 98-yard drive that ended in a touchdown run by sophomore Keegan Patterson and a two-point conversion run by senior Aiden Tank.

Down 22-20 with 4:52 seconds left in the game, however, the Eagles responded with a six-play drive of their own to pull back ahead at 26-22. The Trojans drove the ball from their own 17-yard line to the Eagles’ 2-yard line but with no timeouts and the clock running out on the final play, Pueblo East senior Elijah Perez barely tripped Patterson for a sack to end the game.

Ranked No. 9 in 3A by the CHSAANow.com poll, Pueblo East has won three (’14, ’15 and ’16) of the past five 3A state championships and lost in last year’s 3A title game. But the Eagles graduated a host of all-state players including Luc Andrada, Kain Medrano, Dominic Robles and others.

The Trojans exited last year’s 4A postseason in the first round and graduated their own key players including quarterback Oakley Dehning, tailback Drake Engelking and lineman Telvin Townsend.

Making his debut at quarterback for Longmont, Yazzie ran for a 66-yard touchdown on the Trojans’ second scrimmage play of the night and finished with 266 yards of total offense ( including 84 passing, 137 rushing) and two total touchdowns. Patterson, a sophomore who played quarterback for most of the second half, threw for 116 yards — 65 to Yazzie — and rushed for 80.

“We’re still figuring stuff out,” Yazzie said. “We’re both going to do whatever we have to do to help our team win. We’re working out the kinks and we’ll just keep working and get better every week.”

The Trojans turned the ball over three times, on a fumble and a pair of interceptions. Senior Jason Murillo accounted for the Longmont defense’s lone turnover, an interception at the Trojans’ own 25-yard line that kept his team within striking distance midway through the third quarter.

The Trojans’ season will continue on the road at Fort Collins next Friday.