LONGMONT — So far, rebounding has been no problem for the Silver Creek football team.
For the second time this year, the Raptors followed up a loss with a win, running past Fort Morgan, 29-8, on Thursday night at Everly-Montgomery Field.
Colin Clancy threw three touchdown passes, and Brian Levenduski racked up 17 tackles, 11/2 sacks and a fumble recovery to lead the defense in the Class 3A Tri-Valley League victory.
“We’ve talked all week about getting a conference win,” Silver Creek coach Mike Apodaca said. “The kids are starting to realize the importance of a conference game.”
The Raptors (2-2 overall, 2-1 in league) certainly got the message on defense, holding the Mustangs to just 227 yards in total offense. Aside from a five-play, 64-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter (in which all 64 yards came onthe ground), Fort Morgan rushed for just 87 yards on 29 carries.
“We watched them in film, and they ran a lot,” Levenduski said. “We needed to stop the run, and I think we did that.”
Levenduski, a senior linebacker, isn’t big at 5 feet, 10 inches and 170 pounds, but he spent the night dragging down Mustangs.
“He is one of the most phenomenal high school athletes I’ve seen,” Apodaca said.
“He gives up 30 or 40 pounds to the guys he’s going against, but he finds a way to get around the football.”
Bryan Gonzales chipped in with five tackles and 11/2 sacks, John McGee and Ryan Kennedy had seven stops each, and Robert Hickman and Tony VanZant had big games in the secondary.
“Our defense stepped it up,” Levenduski said.
Offensively, the Raptors weren’t dazzling, but they were effective.
Silver Creek finished with just 109 yards on the ground, but VanZant came up with some big carries, grinding out 87 yards on 23 attempts. He also scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.
Clancy provided the balance, completing 11 of 21 passes for 159 yards.
Dustin Nirschl caught five passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
Clancy connected with Hickman on a 31-yard touchdown pass with 5:42 to play in the first quarter to give the Raptors a 6-0 lead.
After Fort Morgan sacked Clancy in the end zone for a safety, Silver Creek came back with another touchdown, this one a 33-yard pass from Clancy to Nirschl.
Fort Morgan pulled within 20-8 early in the third quarter, but a safety by the Raptor defense, and a second Clancy-to-Nirschl touchdown pass sealed the win.
Nirschl’s return was well received. He caught 16 passes for 323 yards in the first two games, but missed most of last week’s loss to Niwot with a slight concussion.
In addition to his 99 yards in receiving, he had 113 yards in returns Thursday.
“For sure, it felt a lot better,” he said. “I think (Clancy and I) connect pretty well, but Hickman had a great game, and he took the pressure off me.”
Now that Silver Creek has learned to rebound from a win, it will attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time since starting last year 3-0.
“This team needs to put two (wins) together,” Apodaca said. “We can’t continue to trade every week.”