MONTROSE – Dale Harder couldn't contain the emotion.
With snow squalls falling around him, pants covered with mud from a soggy, saturated turf, the Montrose senior took one final glance. One final moment of looking around the stadium with white puffs of snow falling on his crimson jersey.
After so many gut-wrenching losses -- too many to count -- Harder and his senior teammates walked away with a victory.
Harder's 58-yard fumble return right before the half gave Montrose a lead and John Lawson rushed for two more scores as the Meteors stunned Northwest 19-7 on a blustery Friday night.
I just picked up the ball and went. I just focused on the end zone, he said. We work all the time on that scoop-and-score play in practice, and it finally worked. This feels good. We changed what people say about Montrose football. A lot of people didn't believe in us this year, and we were able to win a few games. Hopefully, they can keep this going next year.
For Montrose, 2012 was a new beginning.
After losing 35 straight games, the Meteors finally broke into the win column against Holy Cross two weeks ago.
Now, the seniors gave their home fans something they haven't seen in a long time: Two wins in three games.
I'm so happy for the seniors, Montrose coach Russ Canevari said. For everything they've gone through with the losing streak, I'm happy that they can walk off the home turf as a winner in their final game. Not only was it a great moment for them, it sets the tone for the returning players next year.
Lawson was a big part of that.
The big, bruising 230-pound fullback pounded the ball between the tackles, rushing for 133 yards on 29 carries.
The first, a short 1-yard burst, tied the game at 7 after Northwest's Tony Politz crossed the goal line on the opening play of the second quarter.
Lawson's second provided breathing room, a 7-yard dart right off center – giving the Meteors a 19-7 lead.
We knew that we had to come out fighting, Lawson said. We knew it wouldn't be easy. I'm not the most elusive player. I like to run straight and get through the tackles. This was the perfect kind of game for me. I'm just so happy for the entire team.
Northwest (5-5) struggled in all facets.
The Rangers fumbled the ball twice, had more than 100 yards in penalties and never got their running game going on a field that was wet from the rains of this week and the constant snow squalls that fell throughout the game.
Politz was held to 51 yards, while the Rangers were stopped on four straights plays from the Montrose 9. A score could have cut it to a one-possession game early in the fourth quarter, but the ball was turned over on downs.
It was just one of those games, Northwest coach Carl Majer said. I'm just proud of our kids that they fought all game.
The big blow to the Rangers was Harder's 58-yard fumble return after Trevor Tompkins hit the Northwest quarterback to jar the ball loose.
Instead of a 7-all game at the break, Montrose (2-8) found itself with a 13-7 lead.
NAN – Tony Politz 4 run (Tyler Pegarella kick), 11:55
MON – John Lawson 1 run (Troy Ely kick), 4:57
MON – Dale Harder 58 yard fumble return (kick failed), 0:00
MON – Lawson 7 run (run failed), 3:21
RUSHING: NW, Tony Politz 16-51, Marcus Welliver 4-22, Adam Schechterly 2-5, Austin Mazonkey 2-3, Logan Womelsdorf 4-(-5). MON: John Lawson 29-133, Trevor Tompkins 18-70, William Ely 1-8, Team 3-(-1).
PASSING: NW, Welliver 4-8, 62 yards; Womelsdorf 1-4, 10 yards. MON, Dylan Heeman 1-6-2, 2 yards.
RECEIVING: NW, Timothy Hess 2-22, Politz 1-23, Tyler Pegarella 1-16, Nick Long 1-11. MON, Ely 1-2.
INTS: NW, Matt Mitchell 2.
MISSED FGS: None