Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
Sports@lhvc.com 

Football: Cougars fall to Mountain View, remain winless

 

September 27, 2017



It was clear early on that the Cougars weren’t destined for their first win of the season last Friday night against Mountain View. Two turnovers put the Cougars behind in the opening minutes, and it really didn’t get much better from there in the 51-6 loss.

Nonetheless, there were glimpses of an improving team, and more than once the Cougars were able to put together some big plays. Though Niwot head coach Jeremy Lanter knows his team has a long way to go, he said the players are still committed to getting better every game.

“I thought our effort was as good as it’s been all year long, and we also played the best team we’ve faced all year long,” said Lanter, whose team had a season-high 114 yards in passing. “I’m still glad we’re making progress toward what we’re after.”

Not much of that progress was in evidence in the early going, however. On just their second play from scrimmage, the Cougars lost a fumble inside their own 20, setting up a Lions score within the first two-and-a-half minutes of the game.

On their next two possessions, the Cougars went three-and-out and then committed another turnover deep in their own territory, putting an injury-plagued defense back on its heels early on. By the opening minutes of the second quarter, the Lions had extended their lead to 30-0, and the Cougars were down another of their top players after senior Bradon Golon left with a shoulder injury.

Things turned around for Niwot in the remainder of the half. On the next possession, senior quarterback Matt Baun connected with junior Jonathan Colon and then with Nate Neilson for two quick first downs on the first sustained drive of the game, though it ended with a James Lerner punt. Colon ended the day with 16 yards receiving, while Neilson added 56 to bring his team-leading season total to 155 yards. Lerner punted five times in the game, averaging 37.6 yards.

The defense got into the act on Mountain View’s next drive, which ended with a Lucas Adams interception in the end zone, giving the Cougars the ball on their own 20. From there, Baun capped off a long drive with a 37-yd throw to senior Trent Tadewald for Niwot’s first score since September 8, making it 30-6 with about 2:00 to go in the half.

“He did a great job of getting the ball to several different targets,” said Lanter of the veteran QB’s second-quarter touchdown drive. Baun was 9-for-18 on the day with no interceptions and 115 yards thrown to three different receivers. “He forced Mountain View’s defense into what we call a base defensive set. Anytime you do that, it’s good.”

Lanter confirmed Baun will continue to split snaps with sophomore Noah Peña and freshman Ayden Bartko for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, the brief bout of success came at the cost of Niwot seniors and two-way starters Lisandro Lara and Alex Gazdik, both of whom left the game with injuries during the drive. After that, Baun and the Cougars were unable to sustain their first half momentum. Mountain View scored another touchdown with just two seconds to go in the half, giving the Lions a 37-6 lead, which grew to 44-6 after another quick Lions’ score to open the third quarter. A quick three-and-out by the Cougars gave Mountain View the ball back less than 90 seconds later, and the Lions ran more than seven minutes off the clock with a string of running plays that resulted in their seventh and final touchdown of the night. Mountain View went on to win 51-6.

Despite the final score, Lanter reaffirmed his faith in his defense, but noted the injuries had taken a heavy toll.

“Our defense is very, very strong,” he said, but added that they definitely missed senior Jose Lopez, who is out with a concussion. “When the injury bug hit us tonight, we had to put quite a few sophomores on the field on our defensive line. They gave us good minutes, but we’re pretty beat up right now.”

Despite the final score, Niwot’s defense was very effective at times, especially near the goal line. Led by senior defensive back Brandon Barton, the Cougars not only had a timely interception, but their special teams blocked an extra point attempt by the Lions after their second touchdown. Barton, who had team-high eight solo tackles on the night, described the play after the game: “One of our defensive linemen put his hand up and got his hand on the ball. It was great the way our line was able to penetrate their offensive line, and I’m glad we got the block.”

“Barton is a playmaker,” said the coach of his senior, who also recorded his first sack of the year. “Every time there’s a play to be made, he’s right in the mix of it.”

The Cougars face another tough match-up on Friday, September 29 against cross-town rival Skyline, which is 4-0 on the season and averaging 303 rushing yards per game. Their top running back, Jeremy Hollingsworth, is the second leading rusher in Class 4A, with 675 yards on the season. Hollingsworth is the son of former Niwot head coach Dylan Hollingsworth and transferred to Skyline this year. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Everly-Montgomery Stadium.

Mountain View 51, Niwot 6

Cougars (0-4) 0 6 0 0 — 6

Mountain Lions (2-2) 23 14 14 0 — 51

Niwot Individuals

Rushing — Sandoval 7-14, Bartko 1-0, Peña 1-0, Timmerman 6-(-3), Baun 2-(-15)

Passing — Baun 9-18-0-115, Bartko 1-2-0-(-1)

Receiving — Neilsen 6-56, Tadewald 1-37, Colon 1-16, Bell 1- 6, Sandoval 1-(-1)

 

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