ARVADA — Behind what another Jeffco football coach called “the biggest high school offensive line I have ever seen” the Pomona Panthers ran the ball like they were being chased.
Which they were, and almost chased down. But the No. 8 Panthers pulled it together in the second half and secured a 49-35 victory over No. 9 Chatfield in the second round of the Class 5A state football playoffs Friday at North Area Athletic Complex.
Senior running back Chris Marquez continued his prolific offensive production delivering 261 yards and four touchdowns.
In addition, senior Lukas Russell scored a pair of touchdowns and rushed the ball for 93 yards.
“We feel like if we play our game we are as good as anybody,” Marquez said. “We think we are the best team in the state.”
But what looked like a comfortable victory on the scoreboard took much more work than the Panthers would have liked.
Up 21-7 in the second quarter and looking like they might be on their way to a blowout, Pomona let its foot off the gas and let Chatfield back into the game.
Junior Michael Callahan-Harris scored two second quarter touchdowns for the Chargers to tie the action 21-21 right before halftime.
However, the Panthers would score 28 more points in the second half — 21 in the fourth quarter — and Chatfield could not keep up with Pomona’s overwhelming rushing attack.
The Chargers could not overcome four turnovers, and Pomona made them pay for their mistakes. Pomona junior quarterback Justin Roberts went 8-for-13 for 117 yards, throwing a touchdown pass to senior Hunter Hogoboom.
The Panthers improve to 9-2 and advance to Class 5A state football quarterfinals where they will match up with undefeated and top-seeded Fairview next week at Recht Field in Boulder.
Fairview remains unbeaten and is regarded as the best team in 5A football, but Pomona played them tougher than any team they faced this season.
The game will be a rematch in what was one of the best games of the entire season in which Fairview narrowly beat Pomona 33-30 by a field goal in overtime on Oct. 18 at NAAC.
Pomona coach Jay Madden acknowledged the challenge ahead in facing Fairview for a second time and simply called them a great team — both offensively and defensively.