DENVER — Moments after his teammates hoisted him on their shoulders as he held the Class 4A state championship trophy up high, David Moore III took the opportunity to survey at the field at Mile High Stadium and try to soak in what had just taken place.
“We’re state champions!” the Pine Creek freshman said with a giant smile. “I couldn’t ask for much more than that.”
Playing on the sport’s biggest stage, Moore and his teammates were never overwhelmed. Moore rushed for 201 yards and a touchdown and Pine Creek broke open a close game with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Eagles claimed a 36-14 victory over Broomfield on Saturday in the 4A state title game.
It was the program’s third state championship in four years, and helped erase the sting of last year’s semifinal loss to Loveland.
“It’s not just for this team. It’s for those guys from last year and that tradition,” Eagles senior Pete Isais said. “We play for our brothers.”
After some early red-zone struggles, Pine Creek (12-2) turned it around in the fourth quarter. A field goal in the third quarter gave the team a 17-14 lead, and the Eagles pulled away with a pair of touchdowns in less than three minutes early in the fourth.
Isais got the ball rolling with a 17-yard touchdown pass from senior Brock Domann, who finished 10-of-12 passing for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
“He kind of sat the guys down as an offense during halftime and said ‘listen, we’re in this game. We’ve just got to start executing and doing the little things right,’” Isais said of Domann. “He turned it on and we got the dub.”
Broomfield (11-3) had an answer for each of Pine Creek’s first-half scores, but that didn’t prove to be the case in the second half. A key third-down sack on the Eagles’ first possession in the fourth quarter forced the team to punt, and Thomas Dantzler increased Pine Creek’s lead to 29-14 with a 38-yard touchdown run.
Bo Epperson intercepted Broomfield sophomore Steven Croell on the next possession, and Domann finished things off with a 60-yard touchdown run.
“The sack there, that’s to their credit. They were able to get off the edge there,” Broomfield coach Blair Hubbard said. “It swung all the momentum back their way.”
Pine Creek rushed for 341 yards on the afternoon, with Domann contributing 76 yards.
“It is so hard to stop our offense because we have so many different options,” Domann said. “The run game sets up the pass, so I’m very thankful for the run game.”
It was a much different story in the first half. After missing a 41-yard field goal, Broomfield’s defense rose to the occasion. A 21-play drive by Pine Creek ended with no damage done after the Eagles were stopped four times near the goalline.
“I think it was my fault,” Moore said. “I think the hole was outside and I kept pushing it inside where they were all blitzing.”
Pine Creek took advantage of its chances on the next drive, with Domann hooking up with Wyatt Weiland on a 20-yard corner route down the left sideline. Broomfield responded with a 7-yard touchdown run from Jalon Torres, who had 97 yards rushing on 22 carries.
The teams traded scores in the final minutes of the half. Moore burned the Eagles for a 73-yard touchdown run, but Croell found an open Mason Keeler down the right sideline just before halftime for a 29-yard score.
Croell threw for 143 yards, connecting with six different receivers. But a Pine Creek defense that didn’t allow more than 14 points in a game after its season opener held Broomfield’s offense in check over the final 24 minutes of play.
“All year long we’ve had close games at halftime and we’ve been able to come out of the locker room and play well,” Hubbard said. “We felt like we had a little momentum there, but there were just a few things we didn’t convert on in the second half.
“A solid team across the board in Pine Creek, if you don’t take advantage of the opportunities when you have them, those things come back to bite you.”
It was Broomfield’s first championship game appearance since 2001. The fifth-seeded Eagles won 11 of 12 games after dropping its opener to Legacy.
Hubbard credited the team’s seniors for getting the Eagles to the title game.
“My Eagles are a gritty group of guys,” Hubbard said. “They battled their way to get here. They’ve come a long way from where we were at the beginning of the year.”
Pine Creek will lose 22 seniors to graduation, but a good nucleus returns next year. That obviously includes Moore, who rushed for nearly 1,600 yards this season.
“Great team player,” Domann said. “I’m so thankful I got to play with him for a year. He did what we needed to do to get a state championship. We all did – I’m just so thankful for my offensive line and my defense. It was just an awesome team effort.
“People have got three more years of David Moore, so good luck.”