LAKEWOOD — Two huge scoring plays and a gritty defense is what it took for Pomona to claim the Class 5A Jeffco League title Friday night at Jeffco Stadium.
Pomona — No. 3 in the CHSAANow.com 5A football rankings — grabbed a 14-11 victory over No. 5 Columbine to finish off an undefeated 6-0 regular season for the Panthers.
The two Pomona touchdowns were courtesy of senior Jack Pospisil and junior Dominick Nichols. Pospisil opened the scoring up on the second play from scrimmage. The quarterback weaved his way for a 77-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers up 7-0 less than a minute into the regular-season finale for both teams.
Columbine (4-1, 3-1 in 5A Jeffco) responded with a 20-yard field goal by senior Adam Tasei on the first play of the second quarter to cut the Panthers’ lead to 7-3.
Nichols put the Panthers up 14-3 midway through the third quarter with a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Pomona did turn the ball over three times to help keep Columbine in the game. The Rebels capitalized on the Panthers’ third turnover of the game to get within a score. Junior Seth Cromwell had a big 41-yard run to get Columbine down to Pomona’s 6-yard line.
Columbine junior quarterback Brock Zanetell scored on a 1-yard plunge and also ran in a 2-point conversion with 4:01 left to cut Pomona’s lead to 14-11. It was the only touchdown drive for Columbine as Pomona’s defense was able to slowdown the Rebels’ rushing attack for the majority of the night.
The Panthers came up with just the offensive drive it needed clinging to a 3-point lead. Pomona junior Chase Muller had six straight carries on the ground that totaled 36 yards to drive across midfield. On third down-and-12, Pospisil faked a handoff to Muller and preceded to run 23 yards around the right side to ice the game. The senior quarterback took a knee to run out the clock.
The Panthers and Rebels now wait to see how the seeding for the 8-team 5A state tournament shakes out. CHSAA is scheduled to release the playoff brackets Sunday.
Pomona was No. 4 and Columbine held the No. 7 spot in the CHSAA seeding index through Week 5.
The Rebels had a prime opportunity to take the lead before halftime, but a fumble on a quarterback to running back handoff on Pomona’s 10-yard line was recovered by Pomona sophomore Ian Frye to end the drive. The Panthers ran out the remainder of the time in the second quarter to head into halftime with a 7-3 lead.
Columbine also turned over the ball while inside Pomona’s 30-yard-line early in the fourth quarter. A bad pitch was recovered by Pomona junior Steven Gartman to end the solid drive by the Rebels.
It’s the second straight victory for Pomona over Columbine during this history powerhouse rivalry.
Pomona defeated Columbine 34-33 in a thriller last season. The Panthers held off the Rebels’ fourth-quarter rally to hand back-to-back 1-point losses during conference play last season. The Rebels also lost to Ralston Valley — 24-23 — in the regular season before making their playoff run all the way to the 5A state championship game.