ARVADA - The final score made Pomona and Mountain Vista’s first round state playoff game look like a blowout.
No. 7 Pomona beat No. 26 Mountain Vista 42-21 Friday at North Area Athletic Complex.
But in reality it was 21-14 at one point in the fourth quarter before the Panthers erupted for three more touchdowns.
Behind three Chris Marquez rushing touchdowns and two more by Connor Burns, Pomona (8-2, 4-1) literally ran past a better-than-their-record Mountain Vista team (4-6, 3-2), pulling away in the fourth quarter.
Pomona will now host reigning state champion Columbine Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at NAAC.
“Maybe our guys thought it was going to be a little easier but we prepared like we were playing the New England Patriots,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said. “And thank God we did because we needed every bit of it.”
Mountain Vista struck first scoring a touchdown on their opening possession when junior running back Tanner Smith reached the end zone on the first of his two touchdowns. They would later tie the game 14-14 late in the first half when senior Brendan Kearney caught a 31-yard touchdown pass.
“We wanted to come out ready to go, ready to play hard for our seniors and we did that,” Smith said. “We did some good things offensively and defensively in the first half, we just didn’t carry it over into the second half.”
Pomona would outscore Mountain Vista 28-7 after the Eagles tied the game. Senior quarterback Ryan Rubley threw a pair of second half interceptions and Pomona turned both turnovers into touchdowns.
“In the playoffs you can’t make mistakes, you can’t shoot yourselves in the foot and you can’t have breakdowns,” Mountain Vista coach Ric Cash said. “But it wasn’t for lack of effort because our guys played their hearts out and represented themselves well.”
Maybe it is Pomona’s offense that deserves the credit - more particularly Marquez and his offensive line. Marquez scored touchdowns from 1-, 5- and 18-yards which included a brilliant run where he spun completely around a one-on-one defender in the open field in what was perhaps the Colorado high school play of the year.
“I am always giving 110 percent but I have one of the best offensive lines in the state, so I have to give those touchdowns to them,” Marquez said.
It was the third time this season the junior running back Marquez scored three touchdowns in a game.
Mountain Vista finished their season with an under .500 record but that doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Along their journey this season they knocked off Chaparral, who was the No. 1 ranked team in the state at the time.
“We were given up for dead five weeks ago and the only ones who believed we could turn our season around were the guys in our locker room. It’s been a season despite the record and despite our finish we have a lot to be proud of,” Cash said.