LAKEWOOD — Green Mountain senior quarterback Darius Padilla went through a rollercoaster of a game Saturday afternoon at Trailblazer Stadium.
Padilla threw three interceptions, including a pick-6 that Eagle Valley junior Erich Petersen returned 90 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter. However, Padilla kept it together to guide the Rams — No. 8 in the CHSAANow.com Class 3A football rankings — to a 35-20 come-from-behind victory over Eagle Valley.
“It was a game of runs. We had to respond,” Padilla said of Petersen’s touchdown and another interception in the third quarter that helped the Devils cut the Rams’ lead to 21-20. “If I make a mistake I’m going to make a play to get us back.”
Padilla made those plays to keep Green Mountain (3-0, 2-0 in 3A Western Slope League) undefeated on the season.
The Rams scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to grab the momentum back. Padilla connected with senior Rex Bailey for a 7-yard touchdown with 9:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We had some chances there where we could have totally took control of the game, but Eagle Valley got the momentum back. It got tight there,” Green Mountain coach Jesse German said. “These kids know how to play through adversity. They have so much grit. I’m super proud of them for finishing out this game.”
Padilla channeled his point guard skill on the basketball court to set up the Rams’ final score. It looked like the quarterback would take a sack inside the red-zone, but he escaped several tacklers and weaved down to the 1-yard line.
“That run … I was running for my life right there,” Padilla said laughing about the 12-yard scamper.
Green Mountain senior Jose Luis Cedillo capped off the scoring drive with his second touchdown of the day.
“He (Padilla) responded well,” Cedillo said. “He threw some picks, but flushed them and went on to the next play. He fought for his brothers on the field.”
The Rams fought back from a 7-0 deficit through the first quarter. Eagle Valley senior Daniel Gallegos opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter.
Green Mountain couldn’t muster much offensively on its first four possessions, but exploded in the second quarter scoring touchdowns on three consecutive drives to grab a 21-7 lead at halftime.
“I think on offense we were trying to do too much in the first quarter,” Cedillo said of the slow start. “In the second quarter we went back to the basics and worked as a team. The holes opened up.”
Cedillo and senior Izaiah Carter each had touchdown runs. Padilla threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to senior Austin Peterson to close the 21-point second quarter.
“We came out flat. No energy to start,” Padilla said. “We had to wake up.”
It was the first game of the season for Eagle Valley (0-1, 0-1) who had its first two games cancelled because of COVID issues.
“Our kids are hearing stuff in the news and wondering if this will be our final game,” German said of the news of COVID cases going up in Colorado and questions about if the prep football season will be stopped. “There was probably more pressure and anxiety that these kids have to deal with now with what we are living with.”
Despite the looming unknowns, German said he will have his Rams ready to travel to the Western Slope next week. Green Mountain is scheduled to face No. 7 Palisade (2-1, 2-0) on Friday, Oct. 30.
“Our mentality has been to always play the game like it is your last,” Padilla said. “We have to play as hard as we can and leave everything out here on the field.”