ELIZABETH -- Sitting inside its own 1-yard line with 3 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first half, the Silver Creek football team's goal was to get a first down and avoid costly mistakes.
The Raptors did more than that. They turned a potential disaster into a game-changing three minutes.
The Raptors marched down the field and finished off a 10-play, 99-yard drive when Zane Lindsey hauled in a 38-yard pass from Ben Sjobakken with 25 seconds left in the half to take a 12-7 lead.
The Raptors built on that drive, dominating Elizabeth in the second half on their way to a 33-14 win in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs on Saturday.
Tenth-seeded Silver Creek (9-2) will host No. 15 Pueblo Central, an upset winner over No. 2 Discovery Canyon.
The Raptors got there with a gutsy drive when things looked bleak.
"That was huge and what it typified playing for 48 minutes," coach Mike Apodaca said. "That really set the momentum going into half and allowed us to play a little more free instead of tight."
Once they got the lead, the Raptors turned up the defense against No. 7 Elizabeth. They forced three second-half turnovers, two of which led to touchdowns, as they scored 27 unanswered points against the stunned Cardinals.
"The difference was our defense stopped them, created turnovers and created scores," said running back Josh Quiroz, who finished with 113 yards on 23 carries.
The Raptors also created havoc on Elizabeth's offense, holding them to 54 yards in the second half. Anthony Emberley practically lived in the Cardinals backfield, racking up 31/2 sacks.
"We had a call where if they were in a certain formation and I was on a certain side of the field I would just go," he said. "Thanks to the defensive line putting early pressure on I was able to get to the quarterback."
The offense capitalized on the defensive pressure. After Ross Fitzgerald intercepted Brody Oliver, Silver Creek made it 19-7 on Lindsey's second touchdown catch of the game.
Three plays later, Jeremy Metivier recovered a fumble near midfield and backup quarterback Mitch Webster hit Andre Apodaca on a roll out from the 6 to make it 26-7.
"We got a couple of early turnovers and when our defense gets to play with a lead you can play a little freer," Mike Apodaca said.
Trey Fleming sealed it when he scored on a 19-yard pass from Sjobakken, the quarterback's third touchdown pass of the game.
The Raptors were not only playing to advance, they were playing the game for Evan Pilkington, a former Raptor who passed away in March. Pilkington's last high school game was on this same field six years ago, and the team kept him in their thoughts.
"This game was played for Evan Pilkington and we wanted to honor him," Emberley said. "We had our hearts on the line for him."
They honored him with a win, and they're two more from returning to the title game for the second straight year. It's a position not many thought they'd reach after last season.
"Our first six games of the season they played with a chip on their shoulder and then we got a little ahead of ourselves," Mike Apodaca said. "Now they understand they're a game away every time."
SILVER CREEK 33, ELIZABETH 14
At Elizabeth High School
Silver Creek (9-2) 6 6 14 7 -- 33
Elizabeth (7-4) 0 7 0 7 -- 14
Silver Creek -- Eric Machmuller fumble recovery in end zone (kick blocked)
Elizabeth -- Jordan Bucknam 13 run (Anton Alm kick)
Silver Creek -- Zane Lindsey 38 pass from Ben Sjobakken (run failed).
Silver Creek -- Lindsey 11 pass from Sjobakken (Ryan Charles kick).
Silver Creek -- Andre Apodaca 6 pass from Mitch Webster (Charles kick)
Silver Creek -- Trey Fleming 19 pass from Sjobakken (Charles kick).
Elizabeth -- Bucknam 3 run (Alm kick).
First downs 16 10
Rushes-yards 40-141 31-30
Passing yards 182 82
Comp-Att-Int 15-19-1 7-16-1
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 2-2
Penalties-Yards 6-42 3-15
RUSHING -- Silver Creek: Josh Quiroz 23-113, Anthony Casper 7-23, James Whitmore 3-3, Ben Sjobakken 7-2; Elizabeth: Logan Weber 8-24, Jordan Bucknam 4-16, Kevin Paredes 3-11, Spencer Fulbright 1-1, Jacob Burgett 1-(-3), Brody Oliver 14-(-19).
PASSING -- Silver Creek: Sjobakken 14-18-1-182, Mitch Webster 1-1-0-6; Elizabeth: Oliver 7-16-1-82.
RECEIVING -- Silver Creek: Zane Lindsey 5-82, Trey Fleming 3-41, Erich Machmuller 3-33, Matt Siedem 2-12, Whitmore 1-8, Andre Apodaca 1-6; Elizabeth: Weber 1-39, Fulbright 1-14, Burgett 1-13, Stuart Eurich 1-12, Haden Freisner 2-8, Bucknam 1-(-4).