PUEBLO — Despite winning the yardage battle, the Erie High School football team misfired on a number of opportunities. And now its season is over.
Friday night at Dutch Clark Stadium, the Tigers were ousted from the Class 3A state playoffs by two-time defending champion East, 27-15. The Eagles (10-1) moved onto the quarterfinals where they will meet today's Rifle-Holy Family winner. Erie, making its first postseason appearance in four years, ended at 6-5.
Erie, which had lost three of its past four games in the regular season and narrowly squeezed into the 16-team playoff bracket as the No. 15 team, gave No. 2 East, seeking a three-peat, all it could handle.
It was missed chances in the first half that cost the Tigers. Four times Erie was inside East's 25-yard line and came away with only a field goal, trailing 13-3 at the half.
In winning its 19th consecutive game at Dutch Clark, East raced to a 13-0 lead, scoring touchdowns in the first and second quarter.
Twice, Erie was inside the East 5-yard line. But a delay of game penalty and a sack prevented one score and a holding penalty moved it out or range another time.
Erie actually had more yards than East, 337-267, many of those coming in the fourth quarter after the Eagles had taken a 27-9 advantage.
Erie coach Chad Cooper knew his team missed opportunities.
"It was execution on offense," he said. "It wasn't one guy, collectively as a unit we fell apart in instances where we were in position to score points. Against a very talented team you can't do that."
Erie had two interceptions and were stopped on fourth down four times.
The Eagles had one turnover.
Erie quarterback Ruben Portillo knew his team had missed its chance.
"We killed ourselves, shot ourselves in the foot," said Portillo, who threw for 223 yards and two scores. "We tried to minimize our mistakes but just kept killing ourselves.
"That's a good defense. We missed out shots. It was smashmouth football and that's what we expected. We had a great season and started something new here."
Cooper had praise for how his team played to the final gun.
"I was proud of our seniors," he said. "I asked them not to quit and show up. We were down three scores in the fourth quarter and still made it a game.
"We just missed opportunities. I believe they have started a great foundation to build on for the future."
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Pueblo East 27, Erie 15
At Dutch Clark StadiumErie 0 3 0 12 —
Pueblo East 6 7 7 7 — 27
East — Luke Padula 21 pass from Luc Andrada (kick failed), 3:34.
East — Bryson Torres 2 run (Tory Koshak kick), 6:21. Erie — Julian Custin 36 field goal.
East — Torres 3 run (Koshak kick). :50.
Erie — Quintin Hyrup 14 pass from Ruben Portillo (kick blocked), 6:17. East — Andrada 14 run (Koshak kick), 3:09. Erie — Ryley Deckert 4 pass from Portillo (pass fail), 2:14.
RUSHING — Erie: Noah Roper 20-89, Portillo 15-17. East: Torres 21-117, Andrada 10-31.
PASSING — Erie: Portillo 17-25-2, 223 yards. East: Andrada 10-16-0, 110 yards.
RECEIVING — Erie: Hyrup 9-146, Deckert 6-77. East: Padula 4-46, John Orona 4-38, Dusty Biggers 1-19, Marcus Winston 1-11.