LONGMONT — For a program used to winning, losing doesn’t sit well. Not even moral victories mean a whole lot.
Longmont’s football team picked up a moral victory Friday night in a 35-26 loss to Mountain View at Everly-Montgomery
Field, but that’s not the kind of victory the Trojans were going for.
“We got a loss, so it doesn’t
mean anything, really,” junior quarterback Dominic Aiello said.
In a way, though, it does.
Few expected the Trojans (1-8, 1-5 4A Northern Conference) to give Mountain View (6-3, 4-2) much of a game, and for two quarters they didn’t.
Then, trailing 28-6 at halftime, something finally clicked for Longmont.
“What we did was we went over all our plays like lunch meetings,” Aiello said of the 15-minute intermission. “Basically, we didn’t do our assignments the first half. If we would have, the scoreboard would have been different.”
Momentum shifted dramatically in the third quarter.
On the kickoff coming out of the half, Mountain View’s starting center, Brodie Wright, was injured, and he laid on the turf for 15 minutes before being taken off the field in an ambulance.
After the game, Mountain View didn’t know the extent of Wright’s injury, but players and coaches said they believed he was taken to the hospital as a precaution.
At the time, though, it appeared to leave the Mountain Lions shaken up. Longmont turned around, too.
“I think our kids came out with some resolve and said, ‘We’re going to fight and get back into this one,’” Longmont coach Doug Johnson said. “That’s what I’ve seen all year. We haven’t always come out on the scoreboard, obviously, but we have fought, and I’m proud of that.”
The Trojan offense, which sputtered to just 96 yards in the first half, put together its finest two quarters of the season after halftime, finishing with 214 yards rushing and 318 total yards.
Jordan Smith capped a nine-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to the cut the Mountain View lead to 28-14.
The Trojan defense then forced Mountain View to punt, and the offense went on the march again. This time, Longmont needed 12 plays to go 57 yards, and David Finkel plowed in from the 1. A missed two-point conversion attempt kept Mountain View’s lead at 28-20.
Mountain View threatened to score on its next possession, but Longmont linebacker Shane Deines sacked Shane Sexton on second down and snuffed out a fake punt on fourth down, taking down Matt Hefferon for a 7-yard loss.
The suddenly resurgent Longmont offense took advantage again. A 33-yard run by Aiello set the Trojans up at the Mountain View 20. Two plays and a holding penalty later, Aiello threw his prettiest pass of the season, a 29-yard touchdown strike to Smith in the back of the end zone.
“We faked a run play to the left, and Jordan was wide open,” said Aiello, who threw for 104 yards and ran for 94 more. “We had been working on that all week in practice. I didn’t know if he was going to have room in the back of the end zone or not, but fortunately we did. It was a good play.”
Smith barely got his feet in bounds for the score.
“I was surprised,” he said. “I thought I was out.”
For the third time, though, Longmont failed to convert a two-point conversion, leaving the Trojans still two points shy, at 28-26.
Mountain View then drove 72 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown to seal the game.
“I don’t know if (making the conversion) would have changed our spirit on that last drive or not, but I think it would have,” Johnson said.
Still, he was pleased with how the Trojans fought back in the final two quarters.
“We challenged them with three things at halftime: that we would win the hitting, the physical side of the game; that we would win the second half; and that we would then win the football game,” Johnson said. “We got two of those three things done, and, dang it, we competed for that third one.”
Competing for it and getting it done are quite different, though. And while the Trojans were pleased to put a scare into a good team, they were also disappointed with another loss.
“That’s the best we’ve played all year, defense and offense combined,” Smith said. “We’ve been looking for a game like that where the offense plays (well) and the defense plays (well) at the same time, and that’s what happened.
“Overall it doesn’t mean anything because we still got the one in the ‘L’ column. The (good performance in the) second half came eight games too late.”