Late in the second quarter, James Fisher found himself one-on-one in the open field with blue-chip Falcon running back Kalen Ballage. After missing a tackle that led to a touchdown, the Pine Creek defensive back slowly picked himself up and watched the Falcons celebrate with their home fans following suit.
Pine Creek did all the celebrating after that, spearheaded by Fisher's three touchdown runs and a suffocating defense that shut out the Falcons in the second half of a 29-13 triumph.
"We made adjustments, came back and did what we needed to do," said Fisher, who ended the night with 89 yards on 12 carries. "We knew it was just Kalen running the football, and we had to shut him down. That's what we did. He's a good athlete. You've got to wrap up on defense."
Pine Creek (4-2, 3-0 4A Pikes Peak) limited Falcon (5-1, 4-1) to only 90 yards of total offense in the second half, nearly half of that coming on two plays on a late-minute drive, well after the final outcome had been decided.
It marked the fourth consecutive Eagles victory in the short series, three of which have ended undefeated Falcon starts.
Ballage, who rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in the first half, never got going in the second half, gaining only 30 yards with his longest a mere 8 yards.
"They had a really good game plan coming into the second half," Ballage said. "They switched up some things, noticed things we were doing and capitalized. They've always been able to game plan well. They have great coaches, and they got it done in the second half."
Down 13-8 at halftime, Pine Creek scored on the initial drive of the second half to take the lead for good. After Avery Anderson-Baer returned the kickoff 35 yards to the Pine Creek 45, the Eagles ground out a nine-play, 55-yard drive. Fisher's 11-yard run off right end gave Pine Creek a 15-13 lead with 8:38 left in the third quarter.
An 8-yard run by Fisher put Pine Creek ahead 22-13 with 7:54 left in the fourth quarter. The Eagles started that drive at the Falcon 45, thanks to the gusty north winds that produced a short Falcons punt.
After forcing a turnover on downs with 5:16 left, Scott Savage put more distance between his team and Falcon after ending a seven-play drive with a 5-yard run. The senior gained 49 yards on the drive, including a tackle-breaking, 27-yard burst that preceded his touchdown run.
"We just had to ignore all the talk and play Pine Creek football," Fisher said. "We're going to take it on to the next game. Everybody better watch out. Pine Creek is back."
Falcon drew first blood, scoring on its first possession after holding Pine Creek just shy of midfield, then getting an assist from the wind for a 9-yard punt.
Ballage had his number called five times in seven plays, the last on a toss to the right that ended in the end zone after a 26-yard run.
Bubba Barone blocked a Justin Barron punt out of the end zone for a safety near the midway mark of the second quarter, then the Eagles promptly scored after receiving the free kick on a Fisher 19-yard run around right end.
Falcon retook the lead on its ensuing possession on a highlight-reel run by Ballage, who burst into the open field, shucked Fisher's low tackle and outraced Anderson-Baer down the left sideline and to the pylon.
"We were confident at halftime, but we knew it was going to be a dogfight," Ballage said. "They made great tackles. Being a football player, you have to have a short memory and think to the future."