FOUNTAIN - It all happened so suddenly.
Q Jones, Fountain-Fort Carson football's star player, made a move up field when he went down hard, grimacing in pain. He lay on the ground for several minutes and later was taken off the field on a stretcher. And just like that, the Trojans' season took a drastic shift.
He suffered an apparent broken leg, according to coach Jake Novotny.
It was almost as if the Trojans' 45-14 loss to Regis Jesuit on Thursday night at Guy R. Barickman Stadium was an afterthought. The sophomore running back — who entered the 5A Southern League matchup with 1,396 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns — will not return this season.
Jones' injury took place early in the second quarter.
"That's our best player," Novotny said, "so when he's gone, that changes everything. We're not deep at running back as it is."
Shortly after, the Raiders (5-4, 4-0) took a 21-0 lead — thanks to speedy senior running back Kiahn Martinez scoring his third touchdown run.
Fountain-Fort Carson, however, did respond. On a trick play, TaShon Smith threw a 56-yard TD to Gregory Horton to cut the deficit to 21-7. That momentum didn't last long as Gordon McKeehan scored on a short run to give the Raiders a 28-7 advantage at halftime.
It was all Raiders from there.
Nicoo Marchiol threw a short TD pass to Jackson Connelly midway through the third to expand the Raiders' lead to 35-7. But the Trojans had an answer a few plays later, thanks to Isaac Robinson finding Kobe Hardin for a 48-yard TD to cut the deficit.
Marchiol then found another end zone target — this time McKeehan on an 18-yard play. The Raiders took a 42-14 lead into the fourth.
Regis Jesuit finished the night with a 25-yard field goal.
The Trojans (5-4, 3-1) entered Thursday's contest on a roll. They had a four-game winning streak and boasted a human highlight reel in Jones, whose total rushing yardage was third best in the state.
But Novotny doesn't believe that's the only reason why his team fell. He pointed to six turnovers.
All is not lost, however. Fountain-Fort Carson is still hunting for a playoff spot with one game left against Doherty next week in the season finale. The Trojans sat 17th in the RPI standings. Twenty-four 5A teams make the playoffs.
"The kids are still motivated," Novotny said. "The destiny is still in our hands for a playoff seed. And I think we're a playoff team, and we gotta play like it next week. We can't worry about guys who aren't going to be playing. We gotta worry about the guys we do have and coach them up.
"We'll be ready."