LONGMONT — Longmont's Austin Hassler sealed a 31-6 upset win over No. 1 Pueblo East with his second interception of the game.
"(Hassler) has instincts that you cannot coach," Longmont coach Doug Johnson said. "He does things that cover up for other kids and is very tough. He's an amazing player."
The win ended an 11-game winning streak for Pueblo East.
"That sends our season in a positive direction," Hassler said. "We knew we had to come fight, but we knew we could get the job done. We knew it would be a tough game. We knew they would be good.
"I think we just wanted it more than they did."
Hassler returned the ball to the one-yard-line, setting up a quarterback sneak from Oakley Denning and a two-point conversion to give No. 7 Longmont a 17-0 lead in the top-ten matchup.
"I'm happy," Johnson said. "I think we made a lot of mistakes and it's hard to know who the top team is right now. I'm happy for our kids, but I think we can play a lot better football."
Pueblo East cut the lead to 17-6 with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Luc Andrada to Marcus Winston. The Trojans responded with a clock-eating methodical drive that saw Longmont come away with a missed field goal and all of a sudden there was a chance.
That chance fell flat as the Longmont defense once again stood strong. And the offense distanced itself from Pueblo East for good, 24-6 on a 38-yard rushing touchdown by Cruz Garcia.
Sage Yazzi made it 31-6 with 2:40 remaining when he hauled in a touchdown pass from Dehning.
Dehning completed just two passes in the first half. But, it was his first completion — a 66-yard touchdown pass that was the difference in a 9-0 first half lead.
"We just said to play disciplined," Johnson said. "We did some good things in that regard, but we did some things where we could do a lot better, so that's encouraging."
Facing third down, Dehning sat in the pocket and found Nick Paone streaking over the top.
The series before, Pueblo East went for it on 4th down, but did not convert.
"I think we came together as a family and showed that we have eachother's backs," Hassler said. "In the first quarter, they drove the field on us, but we stopped them and showed that we had eachother's backs from that point on."
Garcia put a 35-yard field goal through the uprights and the three-time defending champions were officially on upset alert.
Pueblo East failed to get points on the board with solid opportunities twice in the first half.
"We wanted to make sure that we kept a handle on their quarterback because he's special," Johnson said. "He runs really well, so we were worried about him scrambling and making plays with his arm. I thought we did a good job of boxing him in after the first quarter."
The Eagles missed a field goal attempt with their first opportunity. Then, just as Pueblo East seemed to be grabbing some momentum after Andrada broke off a 23-yard run, Longmont quite literally took it back.
Hassler intercepted Andrada and Longmont took over with 1:27 in the second quarter.
"I'm just looking to do my job," Hassler said. "I just happened to be at the right spot at the right time."
One play prior, Anthony Rodriguez had a sure interception go right through his hands in the back of the endzone. Hassler and the Trojans smelled blood, and he sat underneath the route for the turnover.
Pueblo East held the second-longest current win streak with 11 wins before the loss.