LAKEWOOD — Green Mountain was able to clear the memories of its season-ending loss a year ago to Erie on Saturday afternoon at Jeffco Stadium.
The No. 8-seeded Rams scored 27 unanswered points after falling behind early against the No. 9 Tigers to take a 27-7 victory, advancing to next week’s Class 3A football quarterfinals.
“I’ve never been more proud of a team after a win than this,” an emotional Green Mountain coach Jesse German said. “We battled through some stuff this week. These guys gelled together and it was players making plays.”
Green Mountain (9-2 record) got revenge after a shutout loss to Erie (7-4) last year in the state quarterfinals
“(Erie) is a great program. They going 4A next year,” German said of the Tigers. “I know our kids had a bad taste in their mouth from last year.”
Next up for Green Mountain will be a road trip to top-seeded and undefeated Mead (11-0) in the 3A state quarterfinals next week. The Mavericks cruised to a 41-7 victory over Harrison on Saturday afternoon in Longmont.
“We are excited,” Green Mountain senior Trey Towndrow said of playing Mead. “I think our team matches up well against running teams.”
The Rams’ own rushing attack was highly effective in the victory over Erie. All four of Green Mountain’s touchdown were via the ground. Senior Jacob Chavez had a 23-yard touchdown run with 9:25 left in the second quarter that capped off a 54-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 7-7.
Green Mountain’s defense intercepted Erie's quarterbacks three times. Twice the interceptions led to touchdowns. The first interception by senior Danny Wisor set up the go-head score for the Rams minutes after Chavez’s touchdown run.
“I read my keys really well, I saw the quarterback’s eyes and felt the receiver,” Wisor said of the big interception that set up the Rams’ go-ahead touchdown. “We knew were we going to have a chance to get picks. We had to take advantage.”
Wisor returned the interception to Erie’s 3-yard line and senior Quinn Meinert scored on the next play to give the Rams a 14-7 lead with 7:49 left in the first half.
Green Mountain opened up a 2-scored lead with an impressive drive to open the second half. Meinert rumbled for his second touchdown of the game from 7 yards out to put the Rams up 20-7.
“We needed that,” Towndrow said of the Rams’ 7-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. “We work a lot on practice on our reads and have gotten better through the years.”
Erie didn’t have much success slowing down the Rams’ read-option attack in the second half.
“Credit to our offensive line,” German said about the success with the Rams’ read-option rushing attack. “We had some guys that were starting their first game today. Credit to our players and coaches. The ground game kind of sets the tone of what the Rams are about.”
Erie did make one final push changing to junior Mason Veve to quarterback. Veve guided the Tigers down the field in an attempt to cut the Rams’ lead to a 1-score game, but his jump pass into the end zone from Green Mountain’s 4-yard line was incepted by Towndrow.
“He (Veve) threw it and I was like ‘Oh no one is back there’,” Towndrow said of his pick that ended a long fourth-quarter drive by the Tigers. “I jumped as high as I could and got it.”
Towndrow broke off what appeared to be a game-ending 80-yard touchdown run in the final minutes, but an illegal block in the back negated the scored. It didn’t make a difference.
Green Mountain eventually put in the final score on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Towndrow with a minute to play to make the final score 27-7.
“I’m feeling awesome,” Towndrow said of the victory. “It’s so nice to get the first (playoff win) out of the way. We want to go deep and know we are on to the next one.”