Pine Creek defense belts undefeated Pueblo West

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It's called a turnover belt.

Whenever a Pine Creek player gets a turnover on defense, defensive back coach Eldrick Hill runs down the sideline and presents that player with black strap belt with silver plates that would make any pro wrestler proud. It was a created by a team parent as a way to motivate kids on defense.

On a windy Thursday night at D-20 Stadium, a previously undefeated Pueblo West team seemingly challenged Pine Creek for the belt, forcing three fumbles and recovering two onside kicks in the second half in a thrilling, defensive battle that ultimately ended with Pine Creek on top 21-14.

The game began in Pine Creek's favor. The Eagles scored on a long touchdown pass to receiver Cameron Brungardt from quarterback JC Coulter. Pine Creek followed that with a 2-yard score by running back David Moore.

Near the end of the first half, something clicked for Pueblo West. The Cyclones turned the Eagles over after stopping them on fourth and short in the red zone. With less than a minute to go in the half, Pine Creek intercepted Pueblo West deep in Cyclone territory to put itself in scoring position. Miraculously, Pueblo West intercepted Coulter in the end zone to keep the score 14-0 at the half.

As the wind picked up, so did the Cyclones, who began the second half recovering an onside kick.

The Eagles stayed strong on defense and Pueblo West turned the ball over on downs.

Not to be the denied, the Cyclones forced a Pine Creek fumble on the next series, but were again turned away by the Eagles' defense.

Yet Pueblo West persisted and forced Pine Creek receiver Wyatt Wieland to fumble. The Cyclones dialed up a trick double pass play and Pueblo West receiver Nieyene Smeyer-Williams scored a long touchdown from Connor Farnworth to make it 14-7.

The Cyclones recovered another onside kick and led a drive down field into the Eagles' red zone but Pine Creek intercepted in the end zone.

The Eagles relied on Moore to get the offense going again and after a few first downs it seemed that would be the case but Pueblo West caused another fumble and got the ball back with a short field.

Again, the Eagles turned the Cyclones over on downs.

Pine Creek's offense was stopped deep in its own territory on the ensuing drive but a 68-yard punt from senior John Weary pinned the Cyclones inside the 10.

On the next possession, Pueblo West's quarterback Jacob Wilkinson fumbled the ball and Pine Creek cornerback Xavier Hill scooped the ball up and scored.

As Hill raced to the sideline, he held up the turnover belt, securing the game in Pine Creek's possession for good.

The Cyclones would not go quietly and scored late in the fourth quarter, but couldn't recover a third onside kick.

Pine Creek improved to 6-1 while Pueblo West sits at 6-1.