PUEBLO — Pueblo West senior Pierre Taylor limped off the field after taking a low hit on an attempted swing pass late in the first half Saturday at Cyclone Stadium.
It didn’t look good as Taylor and the No. 4-seeded Cyclones trailed No. 5 Chatfield 14-7 at halftime in the Class 4A football state quarterfinal game.
“I was really worried,” Taylor admitted about getting injured. “My teammates are always behind me and were asking me how I was doing. I’ve got the drive in my heart to play for them. They are all my brothers. I had to keep playing. I got my ankle taped and was just fine.”
Pueblo West (11-1 record) was more than fine in the second half. The Cyclones reeled off 17-unanswered points to take a 24-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. Taylor had touchdown runs of 36 and 2 yards in a five-minute span.
“We were a little bit shocked,” Chatfield junior linebacker/tight end Graham Metzler said of the Cyclones’ two touchdowns take a 10-point lead with 10:37 left in the game. “We knew what we could do. It just didn’t work. I think we played amazing. (Pueblo West) is just a great team and program.”
Pueblo West hung on for a 24-21 victory to advance to next week’s semifinals where the Cyclones face defending state champion and No. 1 Pine Creek.
“We are looking forward to this. We’ve been waiting for this all playoffs,” Taylor said of getting a rematch against Pine Creek, who defeated the Cyclones 21-14 in the regular season. “When we saw the bracket we knew we’d be heading toward them. We’re ready for them.”
Pueblo West was able to swing the momentum on two key plays in the third quarter against the Chargers. Chatfield had lost its starting punter and big playmaker — senior Keland Rumsey — in the first half due to injury. A 2-yard punt late in the third quarter gave the ball to the Cyclones at the Chargers’ 36-yard line.
“In any big game those (special team) plays get magnified,” Pueblo West coach Monte Pinkerton said. “Our offense kept pounding it at them and when you get a couple of breaks like that it’s the difference in the game.”
Taylor scored on the next play from scrimmage to give Pueblo West its first lead of the game, 17-14, with 3:13 left in the third quarter.
Chatfield gambled going for it on fourth-down from its own 38-yard line on the ensuing drive. A pass from quarterback Zack Yanda fell incomplete and the Cyclones took over on downs. Eight plays later, Taylor scored the third of his three touchdown runs of the game to break open a 24-14 lead.
“I don’t think we came out with the same intensity in the second half that we did in the first half,” Metzler said. “We just didn’t get it done in the second half.”
Chatfield did respond with a quick 4-play, 48-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 31-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Matt Moon. The Chargers got the ball back trailing 24-21 with 3:14 left in the fourth quarter.
Chatfield drove down to Pueblo West’s 19-yard line, but an untimely 5-yard plenty stalled the drive.
“We were hoping to be in 4th-down-and-2. We would have gone for it,” Chatfield coach Bret McGatlin said of the Chargers’ final drive that ended in a missed 39-yard field goal in the final minute that would have tied the game. “It’s tough. These guys really thought they had the opportunity to go all the way.”
Chatfield was attempting to get back to the 4A state semifinals for the second straight year. The Chargers lost in the semifinals against Pine Creek last season. It’s Pueblo West who will get another shot at the Eagles next week.
“Chatfield is an unbelievable team. They have unbelievable talent and a great coaching staff,” Pinkerton said. “We’re fortunate to come away with the win.”