By Oskar LaRue
Last Saturday night the undefeated Lyons Lions played their “homecoming” game against the 5-1 Platte Canyon Huskies at Longmont High’s Everly-Montgomery Field. The much anticipated contest featured the two best defenses in the league, the longest winning streak (Lyons), and a running game which averages over 300 yards per game (Platte Canyon). For the Lyons faithful, the game was a thrilling, emotional roller coaster, and despite a pretty unbelievable comeback in the second half, the Lions suffered their first defeat of the season by the score of 35-31.
The Huskies got the ball first. The Lions defense stuffed three running plays in a row, and the Huskies punted on the fourth play. When the Lions got the ball, their fourth play was a 53-yard pass play from senior quarterback Logan Watson to junior wide receiver Zach Christiansen for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead. Watson threw a perfect spiral and hit Zach in stride, who then zipped forty-three yards untouched into the end zone. During the drive, junior tight end Bowe Herman made a great leaping catch of a Watson pass for a first down. So far, everything was coming up roses for the Lions, and the home crowd was enjoying the beautiful night under the lights. After the ensuing kickoff, the Lions’ defense once again stuffed three running plays and forced the Huskies to punt. At this point, the hometown fans were marveling at the view from atop the roller coaster, their team pretty much having their way with the boys from Bailey.
You know that feeling you get when you stop hearing that clacking noise the roller coaster makes as it clack-clack-clacks its way up that first big hill? Right near the top? When your heart rate jumps higher than a frightened gazelle, your fingers dig into the foam on the bar in front of you, and you just know that the ice cream is about to turn to manure? Ditto that feeling for the Lyons fans as Watson’s screen pass attempt was intercepted in the backfield and returned for a touchdown, making the score 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. And it wasn’t going to get any better in the next quarter.
The second quarter was a long one for the Lions, as the Huskies outscored the Lions 21-3. Senior all-purpose player Trent Poulsen’s 27-yard field goal provided the only bright spot in the period. The Lions’ defense had plenty of great plays, with the likes of junior linebackers Hector “The Wrecker” Rodriguez and Bowe Herman causing general chaos on just about every play. Sophomore linemen “Big John” Hickman and the ever-present Number 75, Gaspar Vasquez, had their names mentioned over the air more than a GEICO commercial. But the Lions couldn’t come up with an answer for the Huskies persistent running game. Lyons Band Director Dr. Karen Gregg had her musicians coerce a booty-shakin’ from assistant Coach Sullivan, and even that didn’t stop the Huskies. But it was worth a shot, Doc. The half ended with Platte Canyon ahead 28-10, and Lyons coach Brandon Wilkes had to get ready to give yet another inspirational half-time speech; something he’s getting really, really good at.
The Lions got the ball first in the third quarter, and promptly marched down the field and scored. Just like that. It was surreal. What in the world does Coach Wilkes tell these guys at halftime? Or is it that just a little rest goes a long way for the sixteen or seventeen guys that play the whole game? Either way, they put together a beautiful drive well worthy of six points. Christiansen made another great catch in between two defenders. And, of course, in mid-air. It seems all of Zach’s catches are in mid-air. Quarterback Logan Watson not only threw a couple nice passes, he also ran over a couple guys who got in his way. They tried to get out of his way, but he ran them over anyway. While Logan prefers to run over people, Poulsen prefers clear running lanes, like the one provided for him by senior wide receiver Preston Medina and junior tight end Bowe Herman on one of his long runs. Poulsen ran around the right end for a four-yard score, and after he changed shoes and kicked the extra point, the Lions were down eleven points, 28-17. As the Lions lined up to kick off, somewhere in the cool night air you could here that noise again. Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack. Going up.
Coach Wilkes called for an onside kick which was executed perfectly by the Lions. Poulsen’s kickoff was perfectly placed and Christiansen caught the ball in, yes, mid-air. That’s where Zach lives. The Lions’ subsequent drive was stalled, however, and they had to punt. Platte Canyon’s offense went nowhere fast, and they had to punt it back to Lyons. This time, the Lions went on a serious prowl. Most of the damage was done by Watson and Poulsen on the ground, and Watson to Christiansen in the air. Zach made another circus catch of a Watson bomb - you already know how he caught it, no sense in repeating it. Poulsen capped off the drive with his second TD run of the day, and the two-point conversion attempt was no good. The Lions had now clawed their way back to within five points, 28-23. The west stands of Everly-Montgomery Field were rockin’ now. As the Lions lined up to kick off again, it appeared that it was going to be a normal kickoff. But at the last moment, all the guys bunched up around the kicker Poulsen, who then kicked the ball straight ahead at a Husky lineman fifteen yards away.
The ball arrived at the surprised Husky the same time Big John Hickman did, which only worsened the surprise. Instead of just giving the ball to Big John, which would’ve been the smart thing to do, he caught it. Big John’s tackle caused the ball to pop out and Hickman quickly grabbed it. Unbelievable. Two successful onside kicks in a row. Clack-clack-clack-clack-clack.
With the hometown crowd near frenzy, the Lions marched down the field again. Watson tossed another long pass to Christiansen, who made yet another great catch high in the air, robbing the defender of a possible interception. A couple plays later, Watson found Christiansen in the end zone for the go ahead score. Somehow Zach avoided two defenders and caught the ball as he was being tackled. It’s good to know he can catch with his feet on the ground, too. Watson bulled his way in for the two-point conversion, and the Lions went ahead of the Huskies 31-28 with eight minutes left in this roller coaster ride disguised as a football game. The Lions defense dug in as the Huskies began their drive at their own twenty-five. Platte Canyon went to their running game again, gaining four, five, six yards a carry. The Lions held the Huskies out of the end zone for fourteen plays, but they finally scored with 2:20 left in the game, and reclaimed the lead, 35-31. The Lions needed a touchdown to win, and two minutes and twenty seconds should be just enough time to do it in. The Lions returned the ensuing kickoff twenty-five yards but fumbled the ball and Platte Canyon recovered.
You know that feeling you get when you stop hearing that clacking noise the roller coaster makes as it clack-clack-clacks its way up that last big hill? Right near the top?