LAKEWOOD — It was all Evergreen football early and often Saturday afternoon at Trailblazer Stadium.
The Cougars jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter against rival Conifer in the annual Mountain Bowl held at a windy and cold Trailblazer Stadium in Lakewood. Evergreen never looked back to eventually grab a 34-20 upset victory against Conifer — No. 7 in the CHSAANow.com Class 3A football rankings.
Evergreen senior quarterback Griffin Lauritano did it with his legs and arm in the opening quarter. Lauritano connected with senior Jack Lewis on a key 4th-down conversion on the Cougars’ first scoring drive. Lauritano finished off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Lauritano pushed Evergreen (4-2, 3-1 in 3A Western Slope League) to a 13-0 lead with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Schneider. A 6-yard touchdown run by Lauritano late in the first quarter put Evergreen up 20-0.
Conifer (4-2, 3-2) ended Evergreen’s string of scores with a 20-yard touchdown pass by senior quarterback Gunner Truby to start the second quarter. However, the Cougars answered before halftime with an 85-yard scoring drive.
Evergreen senior running back Noah Martens carried the load on the final scoring drive of the half. Martens had carries of 68, 8, 3 and 6 yards to punch in another touchdown for Evergreen. It gave the Cougars a 27-6 lead at halftime.
Martens had a monster game with 26 carries for 218 yards on the ground.
Conifer racked up over 200 yards on the ground behind senior Noah Wagner and junior Gauge Womack. The junior scored on a 3-yard run after an Evergreen turnover late in the third quarter to cut the Cougars’ lead to 27-13.
However, Lauritano put the game on ice with a 21-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to make the score 34-13. Wagner, leading rusher in the state, finished with 33 carries for 182 yards. He scored the final touchdown of the game with a 26-yard run in the closing minutes.
The win by Evergreen allowed Palisade (4-2, 4-1) to finish with the best conference mark in the 3A Western Slope League. The victory also brought the coveted Mountain Bowl trophy back to Evergreen. Conifer took a 49-21 win over Evergreen last season.
The Lobos were trying to win back-to-back Mountain Bowl victories since Conifer won three in a row from 2007-2009. The Cougars have won the rivalry game nine times over the past 11 years.
Conifer and Evergreen must now wait until tomorrow to see what their postseason fate will be. CHSAA will announce the 8-team 3A playoff bracket on Sunday. The Lobos were No. 7 and Cougars No. 10 in the CHSAA Seeding Index before the start of Week 6 games.
The seeding index that will determine the state field for all classifications during this shortened COVID-19 season is made up of data from the CHSAA RPI, CHSAANow coaches poll, MaxPreps Rankings and Packard Rating.