Ponderosa football goes to the air in win over Dakota Ridge

LAKEWOOD — Good things seemed to happen for Ponderosa when the football went into the air Saturday afternoon at Jeffco Stadium.

The Mustangs pulled off a nice 41-10 road victory against Dakota Ridge in a bit of an unusual style from the normally grind it out physical style of Ponderosa. The Mustangs (2-2 record) had a pair of long touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Jack Hanenburg and also returned two interceptions back for defensive scores in the non-league victory.

“I was a little surprised by that,” Ponderosa senior running back/linebacker and captain Nick Hoff said of Ponderosa’s two touchdown passes. “That is the best our offense has passed the ball the past few weeks.”

Ponderosa senior Jack Rickard, right, takes a hit from Dakota Ridge sophomore Charlie Offerdahl to break up a pass Saturday at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Hanenburg threw his a pair of long touchdown passes in the first half. Rare for the Mustangs who had just two touchdown passes in their first three games this season.

The sophomore quarterback connected with sophomore Kolton Miller on a sideline go route for a 76-yard touchdown on the first series of the game.

“That first one it was third down and I just had to put it up there,” Hanenburg said of his touchdown pass to Miller. “I thought it was going to be picked. I looked up on the big (video) screen and he was gone.”

Hanenburg hit junior Joe Hufford for a 68-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter that gave the Mustangs a 14-10 lead. The sophomore admitted he thought the pass over the middle to Hufford was going to get intercepted too.

“Our kid was right there and it just went through his hands,” Dakota Ridge coach Ron Woitalewicz said. “It went from us up 10-7 to down 14-10. That took a lot of momentum away from us.”

The Mustangs tacked on a 47-yard field goal by senior Matt Waid as time expired in the first half to put Ponderosa up 17-10 at halftime. The Mustangs’ defense took over from there.

Dakota Ridge senior Riley Fisher (89) looks for a way around Ponderosa senior Mason Maggio in the first half Saturday. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Hoff and fellow senior Mason Maggio both had pick-6 touchdowns in the third quarter to extend the Mustangs’ lead to 34-10. Hoff intercepted Dakota Ridge quarterback Ben Biffinger and returned it 55 yards for the touchdown.

“I blitzed and saw the quarterback drop back,” Hoff said. “He threw it right to me and I took it to the house.”

Maggio picked off Dakota Ridge back-up quarterback and returned it 40 yards for another defensive score. Hanenburg capped off the victory with a 9-yard touchdown run for the lone score in the fourth quarter as Ponderosa scored 34 unanswered points to close out the game.

Ponderosa has another Saturday afternoon game next week. The Mustangs host Vista Ridge at EchoPark Stadium in Parker.

“We are on to next week now,” Hoff said. “We’ll celebrate this for one night, but its just another week in the season.”

Ponderosa quarterback Jack Hanenburg (12) drops back to pass before getting sacked by Dakota Ridge senior Jackson Bartlett. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The highlights for Dakota Ridge came in the second quarter. The Eagles (1-3) actually took a 10-7 lead before halftime. Dakota Ridge got a special team touchdown on a blocked punt by Eagles’ junior James Hess that was recovered by sophomore Colin Stuhr in the end zone.

Sophomore Max Hart kicked a 35-yard field goal for the Eagles to give Dakota Ridge its first lead of the game 10-7 with 2:31 left before halftime.

“At this point winning the league is probably our only chance to get in (to the playoffs),” Woitalewicz admitted after the third loss of the season. “Winning the league is what we’ve talked about from Day 1.”

Dakota Ridge is back in action at Jeffco Stadium next Friday night. The Eagles will celebrate homecoming against Vista Peak. The Bison (4-0) have been playing well, having outscored their four opponents 152-32 in an undefeated start to the season.

“Homecoming will maybe be a good band-aid to get them excited and energized,” Woitalewicz said.

The Eagles open play in the newly formed 4A Jeffco League the following week against Bear Creek on Oct. 4 at Jeffco Stadium.

Dakota Ridge senior Gavin Jordan (81) is stacked up by a host of Ponderosa defenders Saturday at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)