LAKEWOOD — Down a point, Broomfield needed a game-winning drive to reach the state title game.
And the Eagles got exactly that, thanks to an 80-yard march down the field which included three fourth-down conversions that ultimately led to a game-winning 25-yard field goal from junior Matthew Eich. It secured a 17-15 win for Broomfield over Dakota Ridge in the Class 4A football semifinals.
"It's just amazing," Eich said. "For the seniors, it's been a hell of a ride, and I'm glad we get one more (game)."
The kick was into a 10 mph wind towards the north end zone.
"You've got to block that out," Eich said. "It wasn't too far of a kick. I had a lot of confidence in myself, because all season I've been pretty good inside of 30 yards."
And he was again on Saturday afternoon, splitting the uprights dead center as the clock hit zeroes.
"We knew he had it in him," said Broomfield coach Blair Hubbard. "We just had to get the ball in good position, and hope for a good snap, good hold, and put it up through."
It will be Broomfield's second championship game appearance under Hubbard. The Eagles (13-0) also went in his first year, 2016. Next week's game at Mile High will be the program's seventh time in a title game.
"I'm just happy for these guys," Hubbard said. "We get another week together. That's the thing with the playoffs: We always just push because we want another week together. Don't let these memories end, and keep fighting for another week. And these guys get to have another week together with each other."
Broomfield led 14-7 at halftime, and both defenses were outstanding in the second half.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Dakota Ridge was able to break through when quarterback Ben Gultig scored from 35 yards out, and then found Jamal Yatribi for a two-point conversion to put his team up 15-14 with 6:34 to play.
Dakota Ridge ended Broomfield's next possession with an interception, but Broomfield then forced Dakota Ridge to punt. That set the stage for the final drive: Broomfield got the ball at its own 20, with 3:36 to play.
Broomfield slowly drove down the field, but soon faced a 4th-and-1 from near midfield with two minutes remaining. Quarterback Zachary Kapushion picked up the first down with a run up the middle.
But, after three quick incompletions, there was another fourth down in their way, this one 4th-and-10, from the 50. There was 1:11 left. And Kapushion again rose to the occasion, finding Grant Swenson for 13 yards.
Three plays later, it was again 4th-and-10. And once more, Kapushion and Broomfield converted. He hit River Juarez for 12 yards.
On the next series, when Kapushion scrambled to his right and ran out of bounds for a short gain, a Dakota Ridge defender hit him late out of bounds, which set Broomfield up at the 8-yard-line. Two plays later, Eich nailed the game-winner.
Broomfield's Caden Peters had a big game with 193 yards and two touchdowns. Peters, a senior, entered the day with 2,374 rushing yards, which led all classifications in the state.
"He's done a great job," Hubbard said. "A very humble young man, and he thanks his line after every single game, and thanks the defense. He knows his accolades, his yards, it's a team effort, and he's always very humble about it."
Dakota Ridge (10-3) scored first with a statement drive late in the first quarter, capped by a 9-yard passing touchdown from Gultig to Yatribi.
But Broomfield responded with a long drive of its own, and it was Peters who scored from 5 yards out to tie the game at 7.
After forcing a punt, it took one play for Broomfield to take the lead: Peters went 80 yards, up the middle, to put the Eagles up 14-7.
Dakota Ridge again had a long drive, and got all the way to the 1-yard-line after converting a fourth-down attempt, but they fumbled, and Broomfield's Simon Worthley recovered. It was the second time they'd done that in the first half: Dakota Ridge drove down to the 3 on their opening drive, but a miscommunication on a snap led to a fumble, which Worthley also recovered.
It was typical of how the Broomfield defense has been playing of late: In their past seven games, they have given up an average of seven points per game.
Now that defense, and the rest of the Eagles squad, will head to Mile High next week.