LAFAYETTE -- Pine Creek senior running back Austin Schultz rushed for a season-high 189 yards on 16 carries, and added a touchdown, as No. 3 Pine Creek advanced to the Class 4A state title game with a 21-7 win against No. 2 Monarch at Centaurus High School on Saturday.
Schultz gave all the credit to his teammates blocking for him.
“We have a tenacious offensive line,” Schultz said. “Our fullback and offensive line punished them (Monarch). I did nothing but put my head down and go.”
Pine Creek started the scoring on a one yard punch-in by Schultz with 4:12 left in the first quarter. The drive started at the Eagles' own 25-yard-line.
It appeared that Pine Creek would extend its lead in the second quarter after getting inside the 5-yard-line. However, Monarch recovered a fumble on a Pine Creek run on the 4-yard line. The teams battled, but Pine Creek held its 7-0 lead going into the half.
Pine Creek opened the second half on a strong drive, getting down to the 6. Quarterback Tommy Lazzaro kept the ball and managed to score despite fumbling the ball after crossing the goal-line on a keeper to the left.
Monarch responded on the ensuing kickoff when Jay MacIntyre returned the kick 96 yards for a touchdown.
Down 14-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Monarch drove down to the 11. But the Coyotes couldn't convert on a 4th-and-3, and turned the ball over on downs with 8:56 left in the game. Pine Creek retained the ball, and got all the way down to Monarch’s 2-yard-line before running back Matt List muscled in for the score.
“That fourth-down stop really gave us the momentum we needed,” Lazzaro said. “When we got the ball back, we knew we had to chew up some time. Monarch’s a good team we knew we couldn’t give them another chance. We really chewed up the clock which gave us a chance to win.”
Monarch tried to get down the field after starting on its own 20, but turned the ball over when MacIntyre’s pass was intercepted by Eric Warren with 3:44 left. Pine Creek ran the clock out, and left with the win.
Monarch finishes 2013 at 10-2, while Pine Creek marches on with a record of 11-2.
Before the game on Saturday, Monarch had won seven-straight games by outscoring its opponents an average of 41.9 points per game. Pine Creek held Monarch to just 133 yards and one score, while getting 429 yards of offense and three scores of their own.
Pine Creek coach Todd Miller didn’t give credit to just one player for the win.
“Amazing things can happen when no one cares who gets the credit,” Miller said. “That’s the epitome of our team. I don’t know if people look at us and say ‘there’s a superstar,’ but you look out there and say there are a lot of good football players.”
Pine Creek will play for the 4A state title against No. 1 Montrose on Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The last time the Eagles made it to the championship game, in 2011, they lost to Valor Christian 66-10. Pine Creek has never won a state championship.
“We’re going to enjoy this win -- and then we’re going to work like dogs,” Miller said. “It’s going to be a fun Thanksgiving dinner knowing we have a game the next day.”