JOHNSTOWN — Signing a deed on the line of scrimmage is one way to advance to a state championship game. And that's exactly the route that Class 3A No. 1 Roosevelt took.
The Rough Riders scored seven rushing touchdowns to beat No. 4 Pueblo South 49-19 to in the 3A semifinals to earn a berth in next week's state championship game which will be played at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl at CSU-Pueblo.
They had every intention of getting to the game by keeping the ball on the ground and playing a brand of old school, smash-mouth football.
"That was our game plan from the very beginning," coach Lane Wasinger said. "We wanted to run the ball and put it behind our o-line. We knew they had it in them, the size, the strength. Everything. The running back committee did what they needed to do to convert."
The Roughriders (7-0 overall) scored their first rushing touchdown on their first drive of the game. Keegan Sterkel broke one from 26 yards out, giving the top-seeded team on the bracket a much better start than what they saw last week against Fort Morgan.
In just one offensive play, however, the Colts (5-1) quickly showed that their running game is equally as impressive. George Longoria broke for a 59-yard touchdown run, but the extra point try was no good, leaving Roosevelt still ahead 7-6.
South then stepped up defensively as Jace Bellah picked off Brig Hartson putting the Colts back on offense. The drive ended with Bellah scoring from one-yard out to make a 13-7 edge for the Colts.
The Colts couldn't hold the lead though as the offensive line continued to create space for the Roosevelt runners to advance the ball. Cooper Walton and Hartson each added a rushing touchdown to give the Rough Riders a 21-13 lead at halftime.
"We just have to thank the big boys today," Sterkel said. "They opened up a lot of holes up and there was some pretty good running today."
That was especially the case in the second half and the defensive line decided to get in on the fun. Bellah scored with 7:41 left in the third quarter to put the Colts within two but from that point on, the Rough Riders had a signed deed on the line of scrimmage.
Each time Roosevelt needed three yards, they got six. Each time the Colts needed two yards, they got one. Walton and Sterkel each scored two rushing touchdowns in the second half and South was held scoreless after Bellah's score in the third.
"Our offense is a stud offense," Hartson said. "We have a couple of great receivers, a couple of great running backs, an absolute unit of an offensive line and our defense has four outstanding linebackers. When we put those four on one running back, there's no way he's going to get very far."
The win was something the team has believed in since they started virtual meetings back in March. The belief was only intensified when they beat Mead 21-20 in overtime earlier this season.
When Wasinger leads his team on the field next week, it will be a state football championship experience unlike any other. But there is no group of kids, he'd rather share the unique experience with.
"I knew this group was special," he said. "These seniors makeup my first four-year group and they mean a lot to me. What a way to maximize our season. I'm proud of them for that."