LAKEWOOD — Pomona didn’t miss a beat despite being a little short-handed offensively Friday at Jeffco Stadium.
The Panthers, No. 2 in this week’s Class 5A football CHSAANow.com rankings, played without leading running back Cameron Gonzales against Bear Creek. However, Pomona (5-1, 4-0 in league) had plenty of players pitch in to take a 41-14 victory in the 5A Jeffco League game.
“I think we all just came together,” Pomona senior quarterback Justin Roberts said after the Panthers’ fifth-straight victory. “The line blocked great. My receivers caught it and executed. It was just a good game overall.”
Gonzales (606 yards rushing this season) stood on Pomona’s sideline in a walking boot. According to Pomona coach Jay Madden, the sophomore suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago Mullen.
“He (Gonzales) is such a tough kid. He keeps playing, but it isn’t going to get any better unless we give him some time off,” Madden said. “We’ll probably go another week without him and hopefully he can come back against Ralston Valley.”
Freshman Max Borghi stepped into a bigger role leading Pomona with 13 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns. His 66-yard touchdown run with 9:35 left in the fourth quarter gave the Panthers their biggest lead of the game at 41-7.
Senior Isaac Marquez continued to be a scoring machine for Pomona. The multi-position player rushed for 97 yards, caught four balls for 59 yards and scored three touchdowns. Marquez has 11 touchdowns so far on the season.
Roberts had maybe his best game of the season at quarterback. He finished 14-of-16 passing for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He capped off his game by juggling a snap from shotgun, but had the presence of mind of gather the ball and take it in for a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“Very efficient,” Madden said in describing Robert’s performance. “We probably should have thrown it more often. We trust him and we just need to throw it more.”
Pomona’s defense contained Bear Creek’s veteran quarterback Nick Madrid for the most part. Madrid was 10-of-19 passing for 60 yards and was sacked four times.
“Our only goal was not to let him (Madrid) get outside and we were blitzing up the middle a little bit more,” Madden said. “It gave us a couple of big plays. The defense seems to give up a lot of yards, but we keep making plays when we need too.”
The Bears got on the scoreboard late in the first half with a 15-yard touchdown run by senior Olabisi Johnson, but Pomona quickly answered with a 18-yard touchdown pass from Roberts to Marquez with a minute left before halftime to give the Panthers a 21-7 halftime lead.
Bear Creek (4-2, 2-2) pulled out close victories against Chatfield and Lakewood the previous two weeks, but couldn’t pull off the upset Friday.
“Pomona is a really good, physical football team,” Bear Creek coach Zach Morris said. “We’ve played a bunch of nail biters the last couple of weeks. A team like Pomona will make you pay for every single mistake. It kind of caught up with us.”
Bear Creek’s back-up quarterback Stephen Bridgett tossed a 36-yard touchdown pass to junior Michael Dalton midway through the fourth quarter for the final score of the game.
“We haven’t been playing to our potential, but we are going to get there,” said Pomona sophomore linebacker Garrett Zanon, who had two sacks on the night. “We are going to be really good once we get into the playoffs.”
Pomona heads back to its home field at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada to square off against Columbine at 7 p.m. next Friday night.
Madden’s isn’t concerned with his team looking ahead to its showdown against Ralston Valley scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, at NAAC. The rivalry game between the two Arvada-area schools will likely determine the 5A Jeffco title.
“Columbine is a big rival of ours. We have probably played them more than anybody in Pomona history it seems like,” Madden said. “We know Columbine is a heck of a team and it’s going to be a battle.”
Bear Creek faces another tough conference test in undefeated and No. 3-ranked Ralston Valley next week. The Bears host the Mustangs (6-0, 4-0) at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at Jeffco Stadium.