DENVER — Gavin Herberg used his legs, and then his arm, to help Pine Creek’s football come full circle.
The Pine Creek senior quarterback used a pair of big runs to set up touchdowns, and his 35-yard scoring strike late in the third quarter helped seal a 34-3 victory over Broomfield in the Class 4A state championship game Saturday afternoon at Empower Field at Mile High.
It was Pine Creek’s third trip to the title game but the first title since Herberg’s freshman season, when the Eagles also defeated Broomfield for the crown.
“I’ve been playing with some of these guys forever,” Herberg said. “Being able to come out on top like this – we’ve come up short a couple years, but coming out on top like this our senior year, there’s nothing like it.”
Herberg did the most damage with his legs, rushing for 131 yards on only eight carries with a touchdown. His 52-yard run in the first quarter helped set up David Moore III’s first touchdown run, and Herberg’s 53-yard in the third quarter led to his own 11-yard score.
On the very next possession, he found Eddie Kyle open for a 35-yard touchdown to make it 21-3.
“He let me go get the ball,” Kyle said. “That’s what we both like to do. We’ve been doing this together since I think seventh grade. We’ve always had that connection, so it’s just great to see how our last touchdown came out.”
Moore added another short rushing score for Pine Creek (13-1) and Kyle finished things off with a 74-yard interception return.
“I’ve been on Instagram and all that, and I’ve seen ‘oh my gosh, team comes back with a minute and 30 seconds left to go,’” Kyle said. “I always play like the game’s not over until the clock hits zero.”
Pine Creek’s defense was stifling all season, but even more so in the postseason. The Eagles allowed only 33 combined points in four games, and just three points between the semifinals and championship game.
The Eagles had three sacks and two interceptions. Outside of a 46-yard pass from wide receiver Grant Swenson to Trey Ortega – which led to Broomfield’s only points of the game on a 28-yard field goal from Matthew Eich – the Eagles (13-1) never really found their rhythm against Pine Creek.
Caden Peters, the state’s leading rusher coming into the game, was limited to 73 yards on 25 carries. Zachary Kapushion passed for 51 yards and was picked off twice.
Still, Broomfield trailed just 7-3 going into halftime thanks to a strong performance from its own defense.
“That first half we felt a little sluggish, but then we came out and we dominated that second half,” Kyle said. “We went into halftime and we just knew we needed to slow it down a little bit and we needed to keep our composure and just ball out that second half.”
Pine Creek did exactly that, as Herberg’s second big run of the afternoon set up an 11-yard keeper on fourth down. Broomfield was held on fourth down thanks to a big tackle from Abner Schwab, and a personal foul on Pine Creek’s next possession gave the Eagles new life. On the next play, Herberg found Kyle down the left sideline.
“That’s all thanks to the men up front. They do a great job,” Herberg said of his rushing success. “Our coaches do a great job of getting them set. They get up there and allow me to make plays.”
Moore capped his prep career in third place on the state’s all-time rushing list with 7,624 yards. Moore, who rushed for 112 yards and the two scores Saturday, finished off a 95-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter. He added another 1-yard run in the closing minutes.
Pine Creek’s outgoing senior class finishes as part of a group that went 47-7 over four years.
“We finished three out of four years in this stadium, and it was fantastic,” Herberg said. “Junior year we couldn’t get here, and it was very sad, but being able to come out on top, it’s amazing.”