Palmer Ridge and Pine Creek easily won their quarterfinals football games Saturday, while Discovery Canyon lost a heartbreaker.
The Thunder (10-2) led Frederick by eight points with under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of their Class 3A game at District 20 Stadium. But the Warriors scored two touchdowns, including the game winner on a 78-yard hookup from Jake Green to Blake Duran with four seconds remaining.
“It was a play called ‘70 Flood,’” Green said. “We knew that we could get someone open on that play, and obviously we did. It worked out great.”
Added Duran: “I knew if I cut it up the field I was gone.”
Discovery Canyon was the No. 3 seed and was hoping for a matchup with No. 2 Pueblo South (11-1) this weekend. South defeated the Thunder earlier this fall.
Discovery Canyon battled back from a 17-15 halftime deficit against Frederick on a 25-yard field goal by Connor Clancy and a 1-yard touchdown run by Marshall Pike (his third score of the game).
But No. 6 Frederick (11-1) got a 1-yard rushing touchdown from Green with 2:46 remaining, followed by a 2-point conversion run by Dominik Schleif to tie the score at 25.
Discovery Canyon went three-and-out and punted on its next possession, allowing Frederick about a minute of clock.
“You never want to get too high or too low,” said Thunder senior guard/linebacker Gage Clawson. “I think we got a little too overconfident with that 8-point lead. Our emotions got too us, and you can’t ever get too confident.”
Palmer Ridge (10-2), the No. 4 seed in 3A, easily rolled previously undefeated Conifer (11-1, No. 5 seed) 56-35 at Don Breese Stadium.
Bears’ running back Raef Ruel — last year’s player of the game in the state championship win over Pueblo East — had five touchdown runs to raise his season total to 27. He has 1,432 yards rushing.
Palmer Ridge junior quarterback Luke McAllister, who last week verbally committed to Colorado State, threw a pair of touchdown passes to junior wide out Kaden Dudley (a Colorado verbal commit).
Not in uniform for the Bears were two of their main offensive threats. Bears’ coach Tom Pulford said senior slot back Deuce Roberson was serving a one-game suspension for violation of team rules, and sophomore wide receiver Anthony Costanzo (a University of Colorado commit) is academically ineligible for the remainder of the playoffs.
The Bears will play No. 8 Green Mountain (10-2) – a 30-21 winner over No. 1 Mead — Saturday at 4 p.m. at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood.
“Green Mountain has been great all season long,” Pulford said. “They are batted-tested, We know that Green Mountain is a formidable opponent.”
Palmer Ridge is trying to advance to its third consecutive state championship game. If it defeats Green Mountain, the Bears would play the winner between Pueblo South-Frederick Saturday, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Green Mountain has a balanced offensive attack, Senior quarterback Tom Towndrow is a dual threat. He has thrown for more than 1,700 yards and 16 touchdowns, while rushing for more than 1,100 yards and 14 scores.
Senior running back Jacob Chavez has more than 900 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Green Mountain lost to Conifer, 48-34, on Oct. 11.
Pine Creek (11-1), the No. 1 seed in 4A, will host No. 5 Pueblo West (11-1) Saturday at 1 p.m. at District 20 Stadium. Pine Creek defeated Pueblo West, 41-13, on Sept, 27 in Pueblo, eight days after losing to Valor Christian at home.
The Eagles easily advanced to their seventh semifinals game in nine seasons with a 55-7 victory at No. 9 Ponderosa (8-4).
Pueblo West quarterback Chandler Mason has passed for 1,675 yards and 23 touchdowns, while rushing for 625 yards and 12 scores. The running back duo of Matt Rudd and Jeremiah Sanchez have a combined 1,460 yards and 14 touchdowns.