Montrose defense pitches shutout in 2nd half of win
MONTROSE — Niwot receiver Matt Perry had to feel like he was hit by a Mack truck.
In a way, he was, in the form of Montrose safety Mac Alexander. Late in the third quarter Saturday afternoon,
Alexander caught Perry on a crossing route and delivered a crushing blow that knocked Perry out of the game.
“He came across the middle, and that is my area, so I have to punish anyone who comes in my area,” Alexander said. “I saw the quarterback throw it, then let it all out. I just remember getting up and going crazy.”
Alexander’s monster hit was part of a second half in which the Indians shut out the Cougars and allowed only 89 yards on their way to a 21-14 win over Niwot in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Alexander had connected with Niwot receiver Lukas Diesing one play earlier.
“Mac is one of the most physical guys we have and we expect that from him,” Montrose coach Todd Casebier said. “He is one of those guys looking for the hit when it presents itself. It was there and he leveled the boom.”
Although the Indians defense came through big in the game, it took awhile for Montrose to get going as Niwot dominated early offensively.
After stopping Montrose on its opening drive, Niwot went on a 13-play drive that was capped by a touchdown pass from Cody Lahman to Perry. The Cougars didn’t slow down on their next drive.
Zach LaBorde intercepted a pass and 275-pound fullback Tyler Strong scored on a 1-yard run.
At the end of the first quarter, the Indians looked as if they were putting together a drive, but at the Niwot 28-yard line, quarterback Nathan Robertson fumbled the snap and gave it back to the Cougars.
Then, something clicked with the Indians’ defense.
On a 4th-and-2 at the Indians’ 47-yard line, defensive lineman Brandon Franklin stuffed Niwot running back Kegan Garrison.
“We talked about answering the bell,” Casebier said. “This was one of those tests where we wanted to see how our guys did playing from behind.”
After another punt by Montrose, Robertson atoned for his earlier mistake by intercepting Lahman.
Glayden Berry converted the turnover, scoring to cut the lead to 14-7.
“We knew that if we put pressure on the quarterback, he would throw it up for us,” said Robertson, who had another interception in the second half. “Our line did a good job of getting pressure and he served up some passes that I could intercept.”
In the final two minutes, the Indians went on an 80-yard drive.
Robertson connected with Shane Hedrick twice on the drive, including a 7-yard pass for a touchdown. Hedrick missed the kick, allowing the Cougars to take a 14-13 lead into halftime.
It didn’t take long for the Indians to respond in the second half, scoring on their first drive on Jordan Passehl’s 5-yard run. Passehl led all rushers with 85 yards.
“We stared the game slow and we talked about coming out in the second half and starting fast,” Alexander said.
“We did that and made some plays.”
The Indians’ defense pestered the Cougars in the second half, forcing four punts and pressuring Lahman into a 5-of-22 performance after going 11 of 17 in the first half.
“Our defense did a great job in the second half holding them scoreless. They held a good offense to 14 points,” Casebier said. “And if you can do that this time of year, it usually results in a win.”
The Indians host Greeley West (10-1) in the quarterfinals this weekend. Greeley West defeated Littleton 37-14.
A win would put the Indians in the state semifinals for the first time under Casebier.
“Greeley West is one of the better programs in the state. It will be a great measuring stick for where we are at,” Casebier said. “But I like our chances. We have won 10 straight and we are at home.”
By the Numbers
10: Straight passes that were either incomplete or intercepted for Niwot quarterback Cody Lahman.
7: First downs in the first quarter for Niwot. Montrose had two.
1: Onside kick recovered by Montrose right before the end of the first half. With .11 seconds left, the Indians
weren’t able to convert.
7: Different receivers caught passes for the Cougars.
13: Plays that went for zero or negitive yards for Niwot.
18: Years since Niwot defeated Montrose for the 1990 state championship.