FORT COLLINS — In a wild turnover and flag filled frenzy, the No. 5 ranked Fort Collins football team kept their composure enough to secure a 13-7 home win over Longmont on Thursday night at French Field. The Lambkins improved to 4-0 with the victory.
“The biggest thing is, our guys never lost their cool,” Fort Collins coach Eric Rice said. “They never lost their poise, even when things weren’t going great, especially on offense. That’s composure that you want to see your kids have and the kids showed that tonight. They did enough to win the game.”
And win the game defensively.
Dressed in their black and silver uniforms, the Fort Collins defense was a ball-hawking black hole most of the night. In the first quarter, Longmont — who entered the game with nine turnovers in their first three contests — fumbled in Fort Collins territory after a failed fourth down conversion by the Lambkins. Kicker Christian Cominada converted the turnover into points with a chip shot field goal to give Fort Collins a 3-0 lead.
After getting the ball back, Brandon Storebo, an imposing 6-foot-5 and 220-pound tight end and a University of South Dakota commit, took a screen pass 36 yards for a touchdown. The big target gave Fort Collins a 10-0 lead after the first quarter. The Lambkins were seemingly in command of the game.
But the Trojans (1-3), showed fight with a gutsy 33-yard pass from a pressured Clint Sigg to Ethan Gabrielle to the Fort Collins 16-yard line. Sigg punched in a two yard touchdown with 1:25 left in the opening half to cut the Fort Collins lead to 10-7 at halftime.
The visitors had momentum and the ball to open the third just as the Fort Collins offense stalled with a mere five yards of total offense in the quarter. Looking to take advantage, Longmont threatened with several drives. In the end, a rash of turnovers washed away their hopes as the Trojans had three costly fumbles. Sigg, who was heavily pressured all night, threw two interceptions and only completed four of his 18 of his passes for 93 yards.
Another Cominada field goal gave Fort Collins a 13-7 lead with two minutes left in the game, but an electric 68-yard kickoff return by Longmont’s Elijah Sullivan provided the Trojans hope at the opposing 29-yard line. Fort Collins clinched the game on a Kielar Harpham interception with 1:01 to play.
“It felt great,” Harpham said of the pick.” I caught the ball and was thinking, I gotta go, I gotta go, I got the ball, but then I realized, hey there’s not much time on the clock, so I have to get down. My teammates were saying, get down, get down.”
We were doing well as long as we were doing our assignments,” he said of his team’s stingy defense. “When we didn’t do our assignments, that’s when they were breaking big plays. Once we started doing our assignments and they threw, that’s when we had a chance at getting the ball.”
The Lambkins — coming off a gritty 13-12 road win at ranked Windsor — have yet to give up more than 12 points in a game this fall. They are holding opponents to nine points per contest.
“We’ve been pretty good on defense most of the year,” Rice said. “Our kids are kind of accustomed to holding teams to low scoring games and they have the confidence that they can do that, but we also caught some breaks. We have some things to work on, which is good. Even though we are playing well, there’s still areas for improvement and that’s what you want to see.”
As the Lambkins prepare to travel to Loveland for their next contest, they remain a focused, hungry unit.
“I’ve got some guys in there actually crying because they didn’t play well, so that’s a good sign too, because they’re not happy with their performance,” Rice added. “At the end of the day, you take a win however you can get it. If there was a way to win by a half point, we would take it. We’re a little disappointed we didn’t play better, especially on offense, but it always feels good to be 4-0.”