No. 4 Ralston Valley football knocks off No. 1 Columbine in 5A thriller

LAKEWOOD — Ralston Valley versus Columbine lived up to all the hype Friday night at Jeffco Stadium.

A 60-yard touchdown pass from Ralston Valley senior quarterback Walker Brickle to senior JJ Galbreath with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter pulled the No. 4-ranked Mustangs to within 23-22 against No. 1 Columbine.

Ralston Valley senior Caleb Rillos (21) makes a catch despite the coverage of Columbine senior Adam Harrington on Friday night at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“JJ ran a great route and the line gave me enough time to throw it,” Brickle said of the touchdown pass. “We delivered. It was a big play.”

Ralston Valley went for the game-winning 2-point conversion. Senior Chase Wilson just crossed the goal-line to give the Mustangs the 24-23 upset victory.

“I was pumped. Coach (Matt Loyd) wouldn’t have made that call if he didn’t know we could get it,” Wilson said about going for the 2-point conversion. “I got some good blocks from my fullbacks and just put my head down to get across the plane.”

Brickle’s second touchdown pass of the night to Galbreath is one that is going to be remembered for a long time. It’s a play that Columbine senior Tanner Hollens knew was coming sooner or later.

“He (Galbreath) did a double-move. They had been setting it up all game,” Hollens said of what he saw on the final touchdown from his defensive back position. “They were going hitch, hitch, hitch and then they hit us with the double-move … touchdown.”

Columbine (7-1, 2-1 in Class 5A Metro West) had good field position with just over a minute to play, but turned the ball over on downs. Brickle took a couple of knees before the Mustangs (8-0, 3-0) could officially celebrate Ralston Valley’s first victory over Columbine since 2014.

“I’m just happy for these kids. The senior class had never beaten Columbine,” Loyd said. “That’s what I’m happy for. I’m just glad our senior class can say they beat them once.”

Columbine senior Adam Harrington (29) tries to break through a couple of Ralston Valley defenders. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Loyd gambled a few times in the victory. The biggest was going for it on fourth-down from the Rebels’ 8-yard-line in the third quarter. The gamble paid off with Brickle escaping Columbine’s rush and scrambling in for an 8-yard touchdown run to put Ralston Valley up 16-13 midway through the third quarter.

“In a game like this you have to gamble and take sacrifices,” said Galbreath, who had a 5-yard touchdown catch in the first half. “Tonight, Coach did it and he had faith in us.”

An interception by Columbine senior DJ Davis of Brickle early in the fourth quarter allowed the Rebels to score a go-head touchdown. Hollens scored his second touchdown of the game on an 8-yard run with 6:11 left in the game.

Columbine tacked on a third field goal of the night by junior Adam Tasei with 2:56 left, but it was plenty of time for Brickle to work his magic.

Ralston Valley senior quarterback Walker Brickle (9) drops back to pass during the first half Friday against Columbine. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“He (Brickle) is very, very tough. He is very competitive and he knew he was going to have to hang in there,” said Loyd, of facing the great pass rush of the Rebels led by senior Justin Lohrenz, who sacked Brickle twice. “He did so and made some plays to allow us to win the game.”

Ralston Valley heads back to its home field at the North Area Athletic Complex next Thursday for a 4 p.m. game against Lakewood. The Mustangs know Friday night’s win over Columbine was big, but they still have a long road ahead.

“We just have to go to practice next week and stay focused,” Brickle said. “We still have two (league games) ahead and a lot more to go. We have to stay focused and have good positive energy.”

Columbine has another huge test against No. 8 Pomona (5-3, 2-0).

“I believe this will be good for us,” Hollens said of the loss. “We can just get better week-by-week now. We know the potential we have and where we need to improve. It’s going to be another dogfight against Pomona.”

Columbine senior Tanner Hollens (6) works behind the Rebels' offensive line Friday at Jeffco Stadium. Hollens ripped off a 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter against Ralston Valley. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)