ARVADA – Pomona (Arvada, Colo.)
assured Colorado will have a new big-school state football champion for the first time in four years, as the Panthers held on for a 23-22 victory against Mullen (Denver, Colo.)
in the quarterfinals at the North Area Athletic Complex.
Pomona senior Vaughn Ryan
blocked what would have been a game-tying, 30-yard field goal with 1 minute, 49 seconds remaining, before the Panthers took a safety late and watched two desperation tosses land incomplete to end it.
As a result, the three-time defending champion Mustangs (9-3) will not be in the semifinals for the first time since 2002. They had won 17 consecutive playoff games.
The Pomona (11-1) victory capped an eventful night in Class 5A football, one that also had Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow address the Mullen team before its game.
Also, 10th-seeded Lakewood (Colo.)
stunned second-seeded Grand Junction 36-24, while Grandview (Aurora, Colo.)
outlasted Ralston Valley 17-14. Top-seeded Columbine plays host to Highlands Ranch in the remaining quarterfinal Saturday.
Pomona will play former Jefferson County League rival Lakewood in the semifinals, but Panthers senior linebacker Keegan Pratt
said Friday night was for celebrating, not for looking ahead.
"We are going to be happy this weekend," Pratt said, "but after this weekend this one is over. We will get after it and practice hard again next week."