ARVADA — Max Borghi had a nose for the end zone Friday night.
Pomona’s senior running back and Washington State University verbal-commit had himself a night at the North Area Athletic Complex. Borghi rushed for five touchdowns as the Panthers took a 44-20 victory over area-rival Ralston Valley.
“He (Borghi) just said he wants to beat them more than any other team in Colorado,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said about Borghi, who played in his second game after off-season knee surgery. “He looks great.”
Borghi had just 15 carries and 56 yards, but he was money inside the red zone scoring on touchdown runs of 3, 15, 1, 2 and 4 yards.
“Ralston Valley is my home school so I love beating Ralston Valley,” Borghi said “We started out a little bit slow, but we knew Ralston Valley was going to play us hard. It’s a rivalry game.”
Pomona, ranked No. 2 in the CHSAANow.com 5A football poll, actually trailed 14-13 with 4:06 left in the second quarter when Ralston Valley junior quarterback AJ Jergensen scored on an 8-yard touchdown run.
A late first-half field goal by senior McGuire Mallory gave the Panthers (3-0 record) a 16-14 halftime lead. Borghi and Pomona offense run by three-year starting quarterback Ryan Marquez struck early with a pair of Borghi touchdown runs to open the second half.
A key was a fumble recovery by Pomona junior MJ Allen — his first of two fumble recoveries on the night — set up the Panthers’ offense on Ralston Valley’s 22-yard line.
“That was awesome. The defense really stepped it up in the second half,” Borghi said. “The momentum changed for sure.”
Borghi’s fourth touchdown run gave Pomona a 30-14 lead. Ralston Valley did answer with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jergensen to Jake Jones on a fourth-down play to cut the lead to 30-20.
“We are close. We are making good progress,” Jergensen said of the Mustangs’ 0-3 start to the season. “We’ve had three really tough teams to start the year. We are doing some good things. We are just coming up short.”
However, Marquez connected with junior receiver Billy Pospisil three times on the next drive to set up Borghi’s fifth and final touchdown run of the night. Marquez sealed the win with a 19-yard touchdown run for the final score in the fourth quarter.
Madden admitted he wasn’t completely happen with the performance. Two personal foul called helped set up two of Ralston Valley’s three touchdowns.
“It’s always good to learn and win,” Madden said. “I don’t like to learn and lose very often.”
Pomona has two more non-conference games before heading into the Class 5A Mt. Evans League that the Panthers dominated last season.
“The next two games are just for getting better. Win, lose or draw you have to get better,” Madden said. “If we get better the next two weeks that will help us win five in a row. If we don’t get better the next two weeks it will be a bad situation for us.”
Two-time defending 5A state champion Valor Christian heads to the NAAC next Friday night to face Pomona. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“It was a test, but we’ve got to get ready for Valor,” Allen said. “Our defense is playing well and our offense is playing just as well.”
It will be the seventh meeting between the Eagles and Panthers over the past four seasons. Pomona has knocked Valor in the past two regular-season meetings, but the Eagles have eliminated the Panthers from the playoffs each of the past three seasons.
Ralston Valley was scheduled to face Farris in Spokane, WA last week, but the wild fires in the Northwest canceled that game. The Mustangs were able to pick up a game this coming week which was supposed to be their bye week. Ralston Valley will travel to California to face East Bakersfield for a Friday night game next week.
“We are excited,” Jergensen said of the road trip. “We want to get a win out there.”