There may not be a sweeter way to pick up the first victory of the season than beating a city rival.
Rocky Mountain High School’s football team converted a fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the fourth quarter and held on Friday night to beat Poudre 29-22 in front of about 4,000 fans at French Field.
“It means everything,” said Rocky’s Justin Schiller, a senior running back who scored the winning touchdown. “It was the first conference game. It was their homecoming and we took it to them.
“We had a lot of mistakes and it wasn’t a perfect game, but we played with heart through and through and we finally finished it.”
The Lobos, who trailed 15-0 and 22-7 in the game, scored the go-ahead touchdown with 10:49 remaining. Schiller’s 1-yard run on fourth down capped an eight-play drive after taking over after Poudre didn’t convert a fourth down from its 30.
Rocky coach Mark Brook said he didn’t really think about kicking a field goal for the lead. The Lobos (1-4, 1-0, Front Range League) trailed 22-21 at the time.
“We try to preach to these kids who we want to be, and that’s it,” Brook said. “I can’t preach one thing and not follow up as a coach. We believe in these kids and they believe in each other. We looked in their eyes and they wanted to go for it. It was an easy decision.”
It followed the decision by first-year Poudre coach Dan Reardon to go for the fourth down moments earlier. The Impalas (1-4, 0-1 FRL) a drive earlier failed to convert a third-and-1.
Poudre, as a matter of fact, had just 75 yards on offense in a scoreless second half.
“We had a couple short-yardage situations we didn’t convert on,” Reardon said. “We had the third down and on the fourth-down play it looked like we were on the verge of a big gain and their guy came through and made a play on their end.
“If you look at those two plays, they’re two huge defensive stops on their side. Credit them, but on fourth-and-half-a-yard, we need to be able to get it if we want to talk about doing the things we want to do in this program.”
Poudre went ahead 15-0 quickly, scoring on a 41-yard pass from Cody Limmer to Spencer Long. After a three-and-out by the Lobos, Long returned the punt 71 yards for the 15-0 lead less than four minutes in.
Rocky scored on the next drive, a quarterback sneak by Tyler Stevens. Poudre, though, went back up 22-7 on a 28-yard run by Justin Moreng with 8:25 to play in the first half.
Rocky turned to trickery on the next series, a double pass turning into a touchdown. Daniel Hunter found a wide open Jacob Haase from 40 yards out to get the Lobos within 22-15 at halftime.
Schiller had a 41-yard scoring run late in the first half and then scored the winner in the fourth quarter. He finished with 96 yards on 16 carries. He also had a tackle on Poudre’s final play, a fourth-and-18 passing play he stopped for no gain.
Follow reporter Jeff Bersch at twitter.com/Coloradoan_JB