Arapahoe looked like a winner for 36 minutes in its game against Legend Aug. 29 at Sports Authority Stadium in Parker.
Legend, however, was the better team in the fourth quarter and came away with a 14-13 victory by scoring the winning touchdown with 1:16 remaining in the game.
It was a typical season opener as both teams made mistakes while trying to establish an identity for the remainder of the season.
“It was a good win for us because we are very inexperienced on offense, but our defense played lights out,” said Legend coach Rob Doyle. “We made too many mistakes. Just like they made a lot of mistakes late, we made a lot of mistakes early. It was just who was going to make the least mistakes at the end, and that's where we got them.”
Arapahoe coach Mike Campbell concurred.
“Our effort was definitely good enough to win,” he said. “The loss came down to us not being mentally tough enough in the critical moments.”
It was a defensive struggle for most of the game. Arapahoe, which had a 3-0 lead at halftime, had 111 yards in total offense in the first half while Legend managed just 97 yards. The Warriors finished with 282 yards in total offense compared to 212 for the Titans.
Arapahoe put constant pressure on Legend sophomore quarterback Marc Muma with three down linemen and five other defenders lined up and ready to blitz.
Muma said he wasn't confused because the team had watched film on the Warriors, but it took time to adjust.
“They blitzed from everywhere and it took a while for our kids to figure that out,” explained Doyle. “They got a lot more comfortable as we went along. Just to help him (Muma) out a little bit, we rolled out a little bit more because we didn't know where their blitzes were coming. We were just trying to get away from them.”
Muma, who made his varsity debut and said he learned a lot, completed six of his last 10 passes as the Titans rallied from a 13-point deficit.
“We had way too many penalties to win a game like that one,” said Campbell. “With two trips into the red zone producing field goals and missing that TD throw and catch right at the end of the half, that to me is where the game got away from us.”
Arapahoe took a 13-0 lead into the fourth quarter after 31- and 43-yard field goals by sophomore Nathan Waanders and a 69-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Pete Mitchell to Nick Thompson.
Legend's comeback started with a 63-yard drive in which Muma completed two passes for 34 yards and scored on a 2-yard run. That pulled the Titans to within 13-7 after Josh Lyons' extra point kick with 4:05 left in the game.
Arapahoe failed to get a first down on its next possession and Legend took over at their own 48-yard line with 2:15 left in the game.
Legend, helped by a pass interference penalty, advanced to the Warriors' 20-yard line and faced a fourth-and-10 situation with 1:53 to play when Muma was sacked. However, Arapahoe was called for a facemask penalty, which gave the Titans a fourth and 4 at the Arapahoe 13-yard line with 1:49 left to play.
“That's one of those breaks,” said Doyle of the facemask infraction. “We didn't get those in the first half and we needed that.”
Muma delivered a quick pass to Austin Gilbert that went to the 1-yard line and then Brayden Freeman concluded the drive with a plunge into the end zone with 1:16 still showing on the clock. Lyons converted the winning PAT.
“We had a play called and we thought it was going to be a touchdown,” Doyle said of the fourth down call. “Then we were second guessing ourselves. We had too much time. It was a quick hitter because they were blitzing everybody.”
The Titans' defense didn't allow Arapahoe to get a first down in the final 76 seconds of the game.
Muma completed 11 of 27 passes for 139 yards. He was intercepted twice and lost 27 yards because of Arapahoe's pressure. Freeman, a junior, gained 93 yards rushing on 22 carries.
Mitchell passed for 137 yards and rushed for 43 to spark the Warriors' offense. Nick Thompson rushed for 55 yards and caught two passes for 70 yards.
Legend goes after its second win Sept. 4 against Rocky Mountain in Fort Collins, while Arapahoe travels to Colorado Springs to face Doherty that same day.