LAKEWOOD — Pueblo West football made a productive and successful road trip to Jeffco Stadium late afternoon Friday.
It didn’t look like a masterpiece at times, but the Cyclones (4-0 record), ranked No. 7 in the latest CHSAANow.com Class 4A football poll, stayed undefeated on the season with a 31-7 victory.
“It’s huge,” Pueblo West coach Monte Pinkerton said. “We have all the respect in the world for Dakota Ridge. We’ve had some great battles over the years in playoffs. We know this is a tough place to come and win against a team like that.”
The Cyclones leaned heavily on their defense. Pueblo West’s defense put constant pressure on Dakota Ridge senior quarterback Drew Dominic and intercepted back-up quarterback Ben Biffinger in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
“We just came with a focus that we had to stop the pass and run game,” Pueblo West senior defensive lineman Garrett Cassio said. “I thought we did that pretty well. It was a good road win. We’ve just got to keep working because our standards are high.”
The Eagles defense kept Dakota Ridge in the game through three quarters. Pueblo West held just a 2-score lead — 18-7 — until the Cyclones scored back-to-back touchdowns less than a minute apart midway through the fourth quarter.
Pueblo West senior Pierre Taylor scored on a 48-yard touchdown run after senior lineman John Stever recovered an Eagles’ fumble. An interception by senior Dain Rojas of Biffinger set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Taylor with 6:26 left in the game to make the score 31-7.
“We are always looking for those big plays,” Cassio said of the late interception by Rojas. “Big plays win big games.”
Dakota Ridge’s lone score came in large part to the Eagles’ defense. Pueblo West went for it on 4th down from its own 28-yard line early in the second quarter. The Eagles made the stop to give Dakota Ridge’s offense a short field.
The Eagles (1-3) cashed in with a strong 6-yard touchdown run by junior running back Jered Garcia, who carried a trio of Pueblo West defenders on his back into the end zone.
“I just put my head down and keep pumping my legs,” Garcia said of the touchdown run. “I gave it all I’ve got.”
Pueblo West answered before halftime with a last-minute scoring drive. Senior quarterback Jacob Wilkinson hooked up with senior Nieyeme Smeyer-Williams for the second time in the first half to give the Cyclones a 18-7 lead at halftime.
Dakota Ridge coach Ron Woitalewicz said the focus was to contain Pueblo West senior running back Devyn Morgan. For the most part that plan was successful, plus Morgan went down with a knee injury in the third quarter and didn’t return.
“Our plan was to try to isolate and shutdown him (Morgan),” Woitalewicz said. “No. 3 (Smeyer-Williams) hurt us a bit before the end of the half, but we had a lot of stops on fourth down and stopped four 2-point conversion.”
Morgan had the other first-half touchdown for the Cyclones. Morgan scored his eight rushing touchdown of the season with a 1-yard touchdown run. Pueblo West did have its struggles failing on all three 2-point conversion tries in the first half.
In the end, Dakota Ridge knows it needs to improve offensively if it wants to make some noise when 4A Plains League play begins.
“We are so young up front on the offensive line. It’s still growing pains,” Woitalewicz said. “We’ll keep working and figure it out.”
Dakota Ridge faces Wheat Ridge in a non-league game next Thursday night at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada. Pueblo West returns home to face Coronado next Friday night.