LONGMONT — Title bound.
They couldn’t put together the right words to describe just how that felt.
It was understandable being that none of the players on the Windsor High School football team had been around long enough to grasp the magnitude of advancing to the state championship firsthand.
The Wizards are on their way, punching their ticket to the Class 4A state title game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High next weekend following a 12-6 road win over Longmont in the semifinals Saturday.
“I’ve never felt anything like this before,” said linebacker Tony Carr, who had an interception late in the game to help Windsor pull away. “It’s just fantastic.”
The showdown at Everly-Montgomery Field was a highly-anticipated rematch between the two Longs Peak Conference foes, who seem to play wire-to-wire in every meeting.
It resulted in a dose of revenge for the Wizards (12-1), whose lone regular-season blemish was a last-second 8-7 defeat by the Trojans (12-1) on Oct. 15.
“We had that bad taste left in our mouth from the last time we were here,” defensive tackle Zach Watts said. “We didn’t want to let that happen again.”
But things didn’t look good for Windsor early on.
Longmont was moving the ball well with running back Conlan Berger, who finished with a game-high 81 yards. The Wizards, on the other hand, couldn’t convert a first down through the opening two quarters.
Despite being out-gained 168-7 in offensive yards, the Wizards trailed 3-0 at halftime following a 36-yard field goal from Longmont’s Cooper Rothe in the second quarter.
That was thanks to four defensive stands by Windsor, which included two turnovers on downs.
“Everyone had each other’s back,” linebacker Corte Tapia said of the Windsor locker room at halftime.
Following the break, the Wizards mixed things up in search of a change of pace.
Tapia went in on offense to carry the ball, moving the chains for the Wizards for the first time on a 30-yard rush deep into Trojan territory. Windsor was unable to capitalize, but its defense forced a three-and-out and a fumble, recovered by Watts, leading up to its first strike.
Late into the third quarter, wingback Landon Schmidt broke open the longest play of the game when he scrambled for a 49-yard run. That set up Tapia’s 3-yard touchdown run to give Windsor a 6-3 lead.
Longmont responded two possessions later with another field goal from Rothe from 43 yards out to tie the game midway through the final quarter.
That’s when a wild turn of events unraveled.
“It was all just heated,” Tapia said. “Everyone got crazy for a second.”
Carr intercepted Longmont quarterback David Speidel to give the Wizards the ball at the Trojans’ 18.
Tapia then lost a fumble offensively to return possession back the other way, which he avenged on the following play when he recovered a fumble forced by Storm Fox in the end zone to regain a 12-6 lead.
It was three turnovers in as many plays. But just as it did in their previous meeting, Longmont was given a pair of late possessions to try and come up with answer.
This time, however, the Wizards sealed the victory when Schmidt came up with a late interception with just more than one minute to play.
“That was a team win,” coach Chris Jones said. “Not just defense, not just offense, all three phases of the ball won us this game.”
Tapia led the Wizards with 70 yards on eight carries. Schmidt accounted for 60 on five touches, Brandon Ramirez added 19 yards, quarterback Brad Peeples had 15 and running back Jake Shields chipped in five.
No. 3 seed Windsor will face No. 13 Loveland, which stunned top-seeded and back-to-back champion Pine Creek 26-14, in the 4A championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday in Denver.
The Wizards defeated the Indians 6-0 earlier this season.
“They’re probably just as jazzed to be there as we are,” Jones said. “Our guys deserved this.”
Follow sports reporter Quentin Sickafoose at twitter.com/QSickafoose.
(3) WINDSOR 12, (2) LONGMONT 6
at Everly-Montgomery Field in Longmont
Windsor 0 0 6 6 — 12
Longmont 0 3 0 3 — 6
LONG — Cooper Rothe 36 field goal, 7:22.
WIND — Corte Tapia 3 run (Griffith Kull kick no good), 1:34.
LONG — Rothe 43 field goal, 6:41.
WIND — Tapia fumble recovery in end zone (two-point fails), 3:37.