No. 2 Pomona rallies in second half to edge Lakewood in 5A football

Lakewood Pomona football

Pomona sophomore Cameron Gonzales (22) looks for an open hole during the first half Friday against Lakewood at Jeffco Stadium. Gonzales rushed for 148 yards in Pomona's 34-27 victory. (Dennis Pleuss)

LAKEWOOD — Pomona senior Isaac Marquez scored four touchdowns Friday at Jeffco Stadium, but his game-ending interception sealed the deal for the Panthers.

Pomona, No. 2 in this week’s Class 5A football poll, survived a major scare against Jeffco League opponent Lakewood. The Panthers took a 34-27 victory with Marquez snagging an interception with 1:34 left in the fourth quarter.

“He (Marquez) has been our guy,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said. “He has done an incredible job for us playing both ways.”

Marquez had three short touchdown runs when Pomona (3-1, 2-0 in league) went into its ‘wildcat’ formation at the goal line. Marquez also caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Justin Roberts in the third quarter.

Lakewood Pomona football

Pomona sophomore Cameron Gonzales (22) is stacked up by Lakewood senior Anthony Brown (88) during the first half Friday at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss)

Despite the big game by Marquez, Lakewood (2-2, 0-2) actually held a 27-14 lead with 7:44 left in the third quarter when Lakewood senior quarterback Antonio Martinez hooked up for an 87-yard touchdown pass to senior Anthony Brown.

“It’s like the NFL. It can be positive. It can be negative. It doesn’t matter as long as you get the win,” Madden said. “It was a good fought battle. We didn’t play well early, but we learned something about ourselves. We won’t quit.”

Pomona turned the tide quickly scoring touchdowns 17 seconds apart to tie the game at 27-27 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. After Marquez’s touchdown catch, Pomona junior linebacker Elijah Leyva scored a defensive touchdown when Lakewood junior Chris Reynoso had the ball stripped.

“I was just coming around the edge and Isaac Lopez (Pomona defensive end) popped it out and it just went right into my arms,” Leyva said. “I just ran it in.”

The Panthers took advantage of another Lakewood turnover to score the eventual game-winning touchdown. Lakewood’s punter Mao Niko fumble a snap and couldn’t get off the punt midway through the fourth quarter. Pomona took over on Lakewood’s 7-yard line. Marquez scored his fourth touchdown two plays later on a 1-yard run.

Marquez finished with 10 carries for 31 yards. Sophomore Cameron Gonzales was the workhorse for Pomona with 23 carries for 148 yards.

“I give Cameron his credit,” Marquez said. “He does the hard job. It’s a team effort.”

Memories for Pomona against Lakewood on the football field at Jeffco Stadium haven’t always been pleasant. In 2011 the Panthers swallowed a tough 29-23 loss in a 5A state semifinal game. The Tigers went on to the state championship game against 5A Jeffco rival Columbine.

Lakewood Pomona football

Lakewood senior Mao Niko (5) strides into the end zone during the first half Friday at Jeffco Stadium. The Tigers suffered a second close loss with a 34-27 loss to Pomona. (Dennis Pleuss)

Since that loss, Pomona has defeated Lakewood in non-league games in 2012 and 2013. The reformation of the 5A Jeffco League this season brought a little more importance for this year’s conference game.

Pomona heads up to its home field at the North Area Athletic Complex next week to face rival Arvada West at 7 p.m. Friday. The Wildcats got off to 2-0 start this season, but suffered a 58-6 loss to Ralston Valley last week.

“Lakewood is a very, very good football team. At the end of that day all that matters is we beat a good football team,” Madden said. “Now we line up and try to do it again next week. 3-1 feels pretty good.”

It was a second straight tough loss for the Tigers. Lakewood suffered a double-overtime loss to Chatfield last week.

“I told our kids that Chatfield was ranked in the top-10 and Pomona is ranked in the top-5. We battled both teams down to the end,” Lakewood coach Jeff Braun said. “We’ve got to clean up some mistakes and we’ll have a shot.”

Martinez threw a pair touchdown passes for Lakewood in the loss. Senior Marty Gonzales had a 62-yard touchdown run and senior Jake Romero scored a defensive touchdown in the first half for the Tigers.

Lakewood has to get back to work in a hurry. The Tigers square off against Bear Creek at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Jeffco Stadium. The Bears pulled off a thrilling 42-39 win over Chatfield on Thursday night for their first conference win of the season.

Lakewood Pomona football

Lakewood quarterback Antonio Martinez (17) fights for extra yards as Pomona linebackers Elijah Leyva (17) and Peyton Hayes (6) combine on a tackle Friday at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss)