Palmer Ridge senior Deuce Roberson wrote his name in the record book Saturday, breaking Colorado all-time career receiving yards record in the first quarter of the 3A state semifinal against Green Mountain.
But his job wasn’t done just yet.
“I ain’t done until I get a third ring on my finger,” Roberson said.
He will have that chance next week as the new record holder helped his team to a 42-21 win over No. 8 Green Mountain, punching the Bears’ ticket to their third straight 3A title game appearance and a chance to defend their back-to-back state championships.
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The No. 4 Bears will face No. 2 Pueblo South next week at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl in Pueblo. Palmer Ridge previously defeated Pueblo South 24-19 in Week 4 of the regular season.
“It’s great to be able to live out the Palmer Ridge legacy,” said junior quarterback Luke McAllister, who will start in his first state championship game next week. “It’s something that not every program can do to go back to state three times. I’m honored and it’s a blessing.”
Conditions were less than ideal for Palmer Ridge’s typical offense, in which McAllister can flex his Division I arm.
With sustained wind blowing around 11 miles per hour in the first half, Palmer Ridge leaned on the run game in its first two drives with just one pass attempt.
McAllister’s first completion of the game was a 9-yard pass to the outside to Roberson to break the Colorado all-time career receiving record, which held firm for 30 years.
“It feels good, I have to thank my coaches, my teammates and my father who has pushed me every single offseason to be the absolute best I can be,” Roberson said. “But I have another game so I’m going to go live it up. I don’t want to go home a loser. We are going to work out butts off and grind and hopefully we come out on top again.”
Roberson entered the semifinal game with 3,894 career receiving yards and 204 career catches, needing just seven yards to break Ryan Lenderman’s record of 3,900 from 1989.
“I kind of forgot about it,” said Roberson, who entered the game knowing the mark he needed to break the record. “I thought we were going to come out and punch them right in the mouth and go down and score quick, but it didn’t happen that way.”
After the Bears went 3-and-out after the opening kickoff, they scored on a big rushing drive on their second possession, set up by a 60-yard rush by Raef Ruel. Senior Noah Brom had the 9-yard rush into the end zone.
Ruel finished with four touchdowns, giving him 75 rushing scores in his career.
“It was pretty brutal out there,” McAllister said. “But we knew the conditions weren’t going to get better so I trusted Raef to put this team on his back. I said, 'We all got you, and you got us.'"
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Palmer Ridge led 14-7 at halftime with conditions getting worse as the sun went down. The grass at Jeffco Stadium was frozen solid with a thin layer of mud and ripped-up grass as bitter winds swirled up loose snow around the sidelines.
“It was violent, it was cold, the field was slippery, we had a lot of conditions, but we came through so that feels really good,” said senior defensive end K’ya Martin. His objective was to stop Green Mountain quarterback Trey Towndrow, who is arguably the best dual-threat QB in the state.
Towndrow had three rushing touchdowns for the Rams as the senior proved to be the only offensive spark for the team that just a week ago upset top-seeded Mead. Towndrow had a 22-yard score late in the second quarter which put the Rams within seven, and ran for a 27-yard touchdown early in the fourth, but his efforts came up short as Martin and the Palmer Ridge defense continued to batter the run game.