LAKEWOOD - With less than three minutes to play in the 3A state semifinal, Green Mountain trailed by 14 after a short touchdown run by quarterback Trey Towndrow.
As one might predict, the Rams lined up for an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff.
Palmer Ridge senior Deuce Roberson looked over his shoulder and said, “Coach, imagine if I return this for a touchdown.”
The kickoff went right with a quick bounce and hopped into Roberson’s hands. He jetted left to avoid a tackle, went through two more arms and sprinted down the sideline. Once he hit the 30 he cut left and down the middle of the field for the touchdown.
It was redemption for a shining moment cut short at the end of the first half.
With 4.1 seconds left on the clock Palmer Ridge quarterback Luke McAllister sent a pass down the right sideline to Roberson in a last-ditch effort to enter the locker room with more than a seven-point lead. Roberson weaved through defenders, but was ultimately caught at the 3-yard line to end the half.
The 42-yard play lifted Roberson to an even greater mark after his last catch — a 9-yard reception in the first quarter, which broke the Colorado all-time career reception record.
“Well, that record is shattered now,” Roberson was heard saying as he walked into the locker room.
But Roberson, who played four positions for the Bears on Saturday, has made it clear he is not done yet.
Roberson and the No. 4 Bears will play No. 2 Pueblo South in the 3A state championship game next week as Palmer Ridge looks for its third straight title.
“I’m so proud of this team,” Roberson said. “I chose Palmer Ridge in eighth grade because I knew it would be a championship team and here we are going back for a third and I couldn’t be happier.”
After his touchdown attempt came up short Roberson stood up in the locker room at halftime preaching trust.
“At the end of the day we’re so good that when we do our jobs we will be successful,” Roberson said. “But I say that in a humble way. We have worked extremely hard. Ever since this senior class started as sophomores we won two state championships and we get to go back for a third and try to sweep it. We want to leave this program better than we found it and fulfill our promise to coach Pulford that we’re not going to lose another playoff game.”
Palmer Ridge defeated Pueblo South 24-19 in Week 4 of the regular season, but despite the head-to-head victory South received the higher tournament seed.
“Pueblo South is a great team, they deserve it,” Roberson said. “It’s going to be a tough game and it was when we played them earlier in the season, but we have a different team with some starters coming back. But we just have to keep doing what we are doing because they are going to come out firing on all cylinders too.”
Roberson played quarterback for Palmer Ridge in the Week 4 win, but looks forward to playing his own position, and against one of the best coaches he said he has seen in high school, Ryan Goddard.
Pueblo South was the 2017 Class 4A state champion after defeating Pine Creek. The Colts dropped down to 3A in 2018 and lost to Palmer Ridge in the first round of the state tournament.