ARVADA — Ralston Valley quarterback Walker Brickle even got into the running game for the Mustangs late Friday night at the North Area Athletic Complex.
Brickle’s 10-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter typified Ralston Valley’s 42-21 victory over No. 15-seeded Arapahoe in the Class 5A football second-round state playoff game. Brickle muscled his way in for the touchdown behind his offensive line as the No. 2 Mustangs went to their ground game to advance to host No. 10 Eaglecrest next week in the state quarterfinals.
“We are trying to take what teams will give us,” Ralston Valley coach Matt Loyd said of going to the ground game. “We were able to move the ball and we stayed with it.”
Senior Chase Wilson and junior Tyler Roybal carried the load on the ground. Wilson was the workhorse and had a key 6-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that pushed the Ralston Valley lead to 28-14.
“We persevered really well,” Wilson said. “I got some great blocks up front. Our tight ends played great. (Arapahoe) did take away our passing game. We changed it really quick and went to the run.”
Arapahoe (7-5 record) made a game of it in the fourth quarter. A 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Cole Hansen after a trick play put the Warriors just 1-score down at 28-21 with 10:47 left in the fourth quarter.
However, Ralston Valley had an impressive 80-yard drive that included a 13-yard run by Wilson on a fourth-and-1 play to wrap up the victory. Brickle hit senior Caleb Rillos with a 14-yard touchdown with 4:27 left to play to push the lead to 35-21.
“It was definitely a relief,” Brickle said of the touchdown pass to Rillos that pretty much sealed the victory.
A fumble recovery by Ralston Valley junior Will Lester allowed Ralston Valley (11-0) to put in another late score on the second touchdown run of the night by Roybal.
“We are happy that we survived to the next round, but we know there is a lot we need to clean up after this week,” Wilson said. “Eaglecrest has a really great team with a lot of good athletes. We’ll get back at it tomorrow.”
Ralston Valley got out to a 21-7 lead at halftime. Brickle connected with junior Devin McNearny for a quick scoring strike to start the game. The Mustangs grabbed a 7-0 lead 90 seconds into the game.
However, Arapahoe answered with a long touchdown strike on midway through the first quarter. Hansen hit senior Adam Bakke with a 61-yard touchdown pass to tie things up at 7-7
The Mustangs really got their ground game going in the second quarter. Roybal had a 33-yard touchdown run with 5:09 left before halftime. A fumble recovery by Ralston Valley sophomore Zach Friedman set up the Mustangs’ on Arapahoe’s 14-yard line.
“Our defense gives us turnovers every single game,” Brickle said. “I know they were coming.”
Two plays later, Brickle muscled into the end zone from 10 yards out to push the Mustangs’ lead to 21-7 at halftime. Arapahoe had a big 95-yard scoring drive in the third quarter that took up nearly half of the quarter to cut the Mustangs’ lead to 21-14.
“We had a little rust coming off the bye,” Brickle said. “It was more of a wake-up call game. We’ll be good next week. We just need to be more focused through the week.”
Loyd was pleased with how his team handled the win.
“We are advancing and happy about that, but the kids weren’t celebrating,” Loyd said. “The kids were already like, ‘We are going to be better.’ That is great as a coach. They weren’t satisfied.”