LONGMONT — Facing a fourth-and-7 late in the third quarter and trailing 17-7, Mead football coach Jason Klatt called a fake punt run to Eastin Porter, looking to find any spark for an offense struggling to consistently move the ball.
The play worked and Mead scored a touchdown shortly thereafter, but the defense could not get enough stops in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback, and the top-seeded Mavericks (12-1) lost 30-21 to the No. 8 seed Green Mountain Rams (10-2) in the quarterfinal round of the Class 3A state playoffs Saturday afternoon.
“This loss does not define them,” Klatt later said. “There is so much more to life than a football game and the scoreboard and what it shows up there. What defines them is their character and what they’ve shown this year.”
Before the fake punt, Mead was held in check by the Green Mountain defense with 160 yards of total offense. They had not picked up a first down on offense in the second half, but Porter’s run of 12 yards extended the drive and led to a 5-yard touchdown run from Jake Wacher that came after a 34-yard completion by Brady Veltien to start the fourth quarter.
“Eastin ran that and gave us a good spark there,” Klatt said.
Green Mountain answered with a touchdown, but the Mavericks countered with three big plays from Devon Edwards and Prestin Tillema that led to another MHS score — a fumble recovered in the end zone for a second touchdown in the fourth with 6:48 remaining that cut the Rams’ lead to 23-21.
In the end, the life that Mead got from the fake punt conversion and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter ran out.
Rams quarterback Trey Towndrow scrambled and threw to a wide-open Allen Ortiz for a 65-yard completion on the following drive. Five plays later, after two burned timeouts from Mead, Towndrow punched it in the end zone with a touchdown run of 5 yards, and the extra point pushed the lead to nine points with 3:11 left.
Trying to make a play, Veltien threw an interception on a deep pass attempt and Green Mountain converted a first down after to run out the clock.
“At the end of the day, if you’re using fake punts to give you a spark, those aren’t the type of plays you want to get you a spark,” Klatt said. “Their defense was really good and haven’t given up a lot of points this year. You have to tip your cap to them.”
What allowed Mead to stay in the game despite some of the offensive woes early was the defense that stepped up in the third quarter to keep Green Mountain off the board. Interceptions from Tillema and Trey Ward, along with a pair of three-and-outs, prevented the Rams from extending the lead.
“They were just fighting,” Klatt said. “That’s a really good offense, a really good quarterback, and they make it tough. Our defense was at times really good.”
Veltien threw for 160 yards and Mead ran for 133 total yards, with both rushing touchdowns coming from Veltien and Wachter. Green Mountain saw Towndrow throw for 192 yards and run for 73 yards with three rushing touchdowns to lead the Rams in the win.
At the conclusion of each game, Klatt invites the student section and others from the Mead grandstands to join the team in taking a knee on the field behind them as he addresses them following the game. Having to talk after the team’s first loss that ended their season, he kept his speech short and focused on bigger things coming ahead for everyone on that field.
“This doesn’t take away from our guys and what they did this year,” Klatt said. “We had a phenomenal year… It’s a great day to be a Mead Maverick.”