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Turnovers cost Niwot in loss to Eagle Valley

 

October 9, 2019 | View PDF

Jocelyn Rowley

Defensive coordinator Cory Lanter (in sunglasses) addresses his players during a timeout in the fourth quarter.

The Cougars had a devil of a time hanging onto the football in their wrenching 18-14 loss to Eagle Valley, and not even a heavenly performance by senior Jarrett Noterman was enough to save the team from doom. Afterwards, head coach Jeremy Lanter forgave the team its misdeeds, but beseeched his players to go forth and fumble no more.

"We're just not quite where we want to be yet," he said of the Cougars' six turnovers, their highest total in two years. "It's about finishing and focusing on those little tiny things that make a huge difference. We still believe very much in these kids and their ability to perform and I know they're going to continue to work and get better."

That's Noterman's plan, although it might be hard to get much better than he was against Devils on either side of the ball.. The speedy wide receiver/cornerback ended the game with 189 all purpose yards, two touchdowns, a successful fake punt, a timely interception, and a case of leg cramps from carrying the Cougars on his back for much of the game.

"He does so much for us, and you can always count on him to fight for everything he's worth," Lanter said.

Noterman had a hand in almost all of Niwot's big plays on the day, starting with a 72-yard kickoff return at the end of the second quarter for Niwot's first touchdown, keeping the Cougars just one score behind the Devils going into the break.

"I've been telling the team in past games that if I get one last block, I will score," he said. "I got that one last block from Liam [Flanagan], and one more down the line from a lineman, and after that it was wide open."

Noterman found his way into the endzone again in the fourth, on a 15-yard pass from quarterback Ayden Bartko, once again putting Niwot within reach of the Devils. However, Niwot's final turnover of the day on its next possession gave the game away for good.

Like his coach, Noterman said he is confident the team will be able to bounce back from its mistakes.

"We need to clean up our blocking. We had a little trouble holding our blocks long enough for Liam to run through... Our challenge on defense was we just weren't hitting the running back low enough... We know how to tackle low, we just need to get down and wrap their thighboards and take them down."

Noterman provided almost all of the offensive highlights for Niwot, but there were other notable plays, such as Bartko's 36-yd pass to Julian Bell in the fourth to set up Noterman's score. Bartko ended with a season-high 222 passing yards and a touchdown on the day, but it was effectively cancelled out by his season-high four interceptions.

"There are very few kids that can go through a day like he had today, and still feel super confident," Lanter said of Bartko, who threw for 176 yards and four touchdows against Littleton on Sept. 20. "I believe Ayden will walk out of here confident that he can continue to get better and continue to be a quarterback here and hopefully at the next level too."

The Cougars didn't see much success on the ground against Eagle Valley, but senior Liam Flanagan managed 83 yards, his highest total since the Sept. 5 opener against George Washington. Unfortunately, that effort was negated by a fumble in the first quarter that ended a long Niwot scoring drive.

It was a challenging game for the Cougar defense, which was repeatedly forced into short field situations against the physical Eagle Valley offensive line. Nonetheless, they held the Devils to just two scores, with a fumble recovery and an interception, and three Cougars had 10 or more tackles-Julian Molina (12), Max Roberts (11), and Easten Letherwood (10). However, the squad was clearly worn down by the fourth quarter.

They Cougars also suffered two key injuries-to senior receiver Blake Bair, who has been averaging nearly 30 yards per game; and to junior linebacker Jordan Byers, a leading tackler for Niwot.

Jocelyn Rowley

Senior Jarrett Noterman led the Cougars onto the field ahead of their Oct. 5 game against Eagle Valley

The loss moved Niwot to 3-2 on the year and closed out their non-conference schedule for 2019. Up next for Niwot is a road game against Thompson Valley (2-3). Lanter said his optimistic outlook for the team hasn't been changed by the setback against the Devils, and believes the same is true for this players.

"We have a whole lot of kids who are going to say 'what's done is done'. We didn't come this far to come this far-we want to continue to move forward."

Eagle Valley 18, Niwot 14

Devils (1-4) 0 12 0 6 – 18

Cougars (3-2) 0 6 0 8 – 14

Rushing—Flanagan 18-83, Fisk 2-12, Lopez 2-11, Bartko 2-7, Molina 2 -(-1)

Passing—Bartko 12-28-222-1-4

Receiving—Noterman 5-81-1, Fisk 2-45, Bair 2-37, Bell 1-36, Molina 1-12, Bitterman 2-11

 

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