5A No. 3 Valor Christian football takes punch, battles back to beat 4A No. 1 Pine Creek

Valor Christian Pine Creek football

More photos. (Chris Fehrm/Chris Fehrm Photography)

COLORADO SPRINGS — Everyone in District 20 Stadium knew that David Moore III was going to be good for a long touchdown run. Not many were surprised when he scampered for an 80-yard score on just the second offensive drive of the game for Pine Creek.

The senior standout back has made a habit of playing his best football on the best stages. But when Gavin Sawchuck broke off an 80-yard touchdown run of his own to steal momentum for Valor Christian, he and his Eagles had no intention of giving back as Valor topped the Pine Creek Eagles 24-14 in a battle of two of Colorado's top teams in 2019.

Credit must be given where credit is due, Pine Creek delivered two touchdowns on their first two drives of the game eliciting massive cheers from its fans and leaving the Valor contingent that had traveled from Highlands Ranch somewhat stunned. Class 5A No. 3 Valor could only muster a field goal as quarterback Cole Bott misfired on some passes and watched receivers drop others.

The solution for Valor coach Ed McCaffrey was a quarterback change at halftime and it was Jack Howell who took the snaps and showed why his coach had faith in him.

"Jack is an absolute warrior," McCaffrey said. "He can play the quarterback position but if he's not the best athlete in the state, he's certainly one of them."

The combination of Howell, Sawchuck and a team defense mentality helped settle down a Valor team that got off to a shaky start.

Valor Christian Pine Creek football

More photos. (Ismael Gomez)

Gavin Herberg found Eddie Kyle for a 24-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive and after Pine Creek bent, but didn't break, on defense and surrendered the field goal, Moore broke free to put Pine Creek up 14-3. Moore went into the locker room at halftime with 135 rushing yards on 12 carries to go with that touchdown.

But against a team like Valor, there can't be any slowing down when there is that much production so early in the game.

"They're a great football team," coach Todd Miller said. "We got up and they made some great adjustments and we got bogged down. They had some kids that made some plays."

One of those kids was Sawchuck and it was the first offensive play in the second half that he made for Valor. He countered Moore to go for his own 80-yard touchdown run to cut the Pine Creek lead to 14-10.

"When we had to get the momentum up, it was big and it was important," Sawchuck said. "My team stepped up and made the blocks and allowed me to get it done."

And the defense followed suit. Valor limited Moore to just 50 rushing yards in the second half and couldn't break into the red zone at any point in the final 24 minutes of play. And it was just what Howell wanted to see after getting the nod at quarterback coming out of the locker room.

"Our defense is crazy," Howell said. "It was great last year, it's great this year and we kind of pride ourselves there. Everyone stepped up and it was a great team effort."

Howell broke for a 55-yard touchdown run to give Valor the lead and Sawchuck added an eight-yard touchdown run to seal the game. 

And it was a matchup that didn't disappoint anyone in attendance. From the time Pine Creek was leading at halftime to when Valor walked away victorious, there wasn't a soul in District 20 Stadium that didn't believe both teams are in shape for deep playoff runs.

"It was a fight," Miller said. "Both teams fought to the end. That team over there competes and it plays the game the way it's supposed to be played."

Valor Christian Pine Creek football

More photos. (Ismael Gomez)