PARKER — Just when it looked like Q Jones had used all his moves to help Fountain-Fort Carson to the Class 4A football semifinals, the Trojans’ senior running back busted out a back flip.
The acrobatics came after Jones rushed for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns, as sixth-seeded Fountain-Fort Carson handed No. 3 Ponderosa its first loss, 41-38, in the first round of the playoffs Saturday at Echo Park Stadium.
“I’ve coached at the next level, and I’ll tell you right now, he’s a power-five kid if I’ve ever seen one,” F-FC coach Jake Novotny said after the Trojans advanced to host No. 2 Palmer Ridge.
Jones’ final touchdown came after the Mustangs took a 38-35 lead thanks to Jack Hanenburg’s fourth touchdown pass. The first three touchdowns came in the first half, as Ponderosa led 31-21 after two quarters.
“They were picking us apart in zone coverage,” Novotny said. “That quarterback is the best quarterback we’ve played this year. He is a ballplayer. He is the heart and soul of their team, and he is a great leader.”
Trailing by three, the Trojans faced fourth and 1 on the Ponderosa 35-yard line. Jones planned to hit the hole and pump his legs in hopes of picking up the first down but got so much more, slipping a couple of ankle tackles en route to a 35-yard score.
“The whole o-line and everything shifted,” Jones said. “There were two defenders in the hole, and I hit one of the defenders. I broke off that tackle and just kept going from there.”
Ponderosa would have a fourth-and-short opportunity on its next drive and tried for its own go-ahead score. F-FC linebackers Nick Neely and Tai Faavae combined for the stop after initially expecting a quarterback sneak, a play the Mustangs used multiple times in short-yardage situations.
“But he flips,” Neely said of Hanenburg. “And instantly me and Tai knew it was bouncing outside. Me and Tai slammed it, caught him short. It was amazing.”
Jones picked up the final 40 or so yards as the Trojans ran off the final few minutes.
“We started off a little slow, but we all stood up,” Neely said. “We knew if we wanted to go somewhere, our defense just had to stay up.”
Ponderosa made the first big play when Brady Porter intercepted F-FC quarterback Tavian Tuli on the game's third play and returned it for six.
Malik McClarity returned the next kickoff to the 50, and Jones took it the rest of the way for his first touchdown the next play. Wyatt Price made a fourth-down stop on Ponderosa’s first offensive possession before Tuli and Ricardo Rivera connected for the first of their two touchdowns.
“He runs good routes,” Tuli said. “Even if he’s not getting the ball, he has good blocks and just really makes it easy for me.”
The Mustangs stormed back with Hanenburg hitting Alex Tongren in the end zone to tie it 14-14 at the end of the first quarter. Hanenburg and Kolton Miller linked up for two second-quarter touchdowns that sandwiched a McClarity score out of the wildcat formation, helping the hosts to a 10-point advantage at the half.
The Trojans' defense started the second half with a big stop before Jones took his first carry of the second half for a 64-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to three. He made a couple of tacklers miss before outrunning the defense a second time.
“Big-time players step up in big-time moments,” Novotny said. “That’s what happens when you’ve got a kid like that.”
The Trojans and Mustangs traded touchdown passes, giving Ponderosa a three-point lead before Jones’ final touchdown run.
Jones finished the day with more than 1,700 yards rushing — the most in Colorado regardless of classification — and 19 rushing touchdowns on the season with at least one more game left in his high school career.
“I’m excited, man,” Jones said. “Like I said, it’s a blessing playing, and the fact that my senior year’s not over yet, I get seven more guaranteed days of football, it’s a blessing.”
Now, his coach believes it’s time for college coaches to give the running back who overcame leg injuries that limited his sophomore and junior seasons another reason to flip.
“If there’s any college coaches that pay attention to what you’re doing, they need to offer this kid,” Novotny said. “Because I tell you what, it’s a travesty that he’s not getting as many offers as he should right now.”