BROOMFIELD — Chalk one up to resilience.
The Broomfield Eagles stuck it to their naysayers, the ones who thought they didn't stand a chance against the defending Class 4A champs from Windsor, on Saturday at Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium ... even though they had handled the Wizards earlier in the season.
With a little bit more on the line on Saturday in the Class 4A state semifinals, the Eagles found a way to dethrone the champs 25-13 and in the process earned their first trip to the state title game since 2001 and will have a chance to win to win their first title since 1984.
"It's a dream come true," said senior lineman, and arguably Broomfield's most emphatic leader, Jaxon Pallone.
Fifth-seeded Broomfield (11-2) will face No. 3 Pine Creek (11-2) — a 28-14 winner over Chatfield in the other semifinal — on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Windsor wraps up its title defense 9-4.
The Wizards, who were coming in hot after knocking off top-seeded Denver South in the quarterfinals, could do no wrong in the early going. A second quarter touchdown run from CSU-commit Corte Tapia was the difference going to the break and the Windsor defense did the rest by shutting out the Eagles.
Windsor had a chance to go up two scores to start the second half after a pseudo onside kick by Julia Broghammer was recovered by Darren Peeples at the Eagles 35-yard line.
But the Broomfield defense came up huge, stopping the Wizards with a Pallone hit on 4th-and-1 to turn the ball over on downs.
"Coach (Robert) O'Brien has done a great jo all year of putting the guys in the right spot and he's got good athletes on the back end, and when you play an option team, those guys have to come up in run support," said Broomfield coach Blair Hubbard, who will be in search of his fourth state title as a coach in his fifth try. "We got the momentum back right there."
The Eagles finally solved the Wizards defense, finishing off a seven play 74-yard drive with an 11-yard Jalon Torres run.
After back-to-back stops on the Wizards, who were playing with a less than 100 percent Peeples after an ankle injury in the first quarter, Broomfield took advantage of a short field and a tall quarterback.
Steve Croell went up and got a high snap, stumbled and then scampered 34-yards on what appeared to be a busted play to give Broomfield the lead for good late in the third quarter.
"I didn't want to have to force it to Ryan (Mazzola) and force another fumble," Croell said. "I just had to make a couple of guys miss and I ended up in the end zone."
Said Hubbard: "That was the best bad snap that we've had all year long. Steve is a good enough athlete and they overplayed the side we were pulling to and left the gap open — he was quick enough to get in the end zone."
A 22-yard Luke Coffman field goal made it a two score game 17-7 early in the fourth, but things got interesting on the next offensive play for the Wizards. Jaelyn Traut busted an 80-yard run around the right side of his line to cut the lead to 17-13 with 7:46 to play.
But the defense, which had come up big all day, again made the plays to turn the tide. After Coffman's punt pinned the Wizards deep, Pallone sacked Peeples in the end zone for a safety and change of possession and momentum.
"We had guys that were trying to make plays that they shouldn't be making (in the first half) but we just kept saying 'Do your job' and if everybody does their job, we are going to make every play," said Pallone, who also forced a big fumble at the end of the first half. "It was the coolest play I've had in my entire life.
"It was the kind of play you dream about, you visualize it, and it finally came true."
Torres' second score just four plays later sealed the deal for the Eagles, who will have a chance to end a 32-year championship drought.
"It's going to be a lot of fun being down there and its going to be a lifelong memory," Hubbard said. "It be even better if they get the W."
BROOMFIELD 25, WINDSOR 13
At Elizabeth Kennedy StadiumWindsor (9-4) 0 7 0 6 — 13
Broomfield (11-2) 0 0 14 11 — 25
Windsor — Corte Tapia 1 run (Julia Broghammer kick).
Broomfield — Jalon Torres 11 run (Luke Coffman kick).
Broomfield — Steve Croell 34 run (Coffman kick).
Broomfield — FG Coffman 22.
Windsor — Jaedyn Traut 80 run (kick failed).
Broomfield — Safety, Jaxon Pallone sack Brad Peeples in end zone.
Broomfield — Torres 10 run (run failed).
RUSHING — Windsor: Jaedyn Traut 5-83, Brad Peeples 12-69, Caleb Bangs 11-69, Corte Tapia 4-19, Brandon Ramirez 3-12, Rylan Lemons 2-4, Jake Hammond 1-3, Connor Apodaca 2-(minus-8). Broomfield: Jalon Torres 21-109, Steve Croell 4-48, Tanner Garner 6-28, Tyler Lefkowicz 4-10, Ryan Mazzola 2-5.
PASSING — Windsor: Apodaca 3-6-1-34, Peeples 1-4-0-6.Broomfield: Croell 7-16-0-93.
RECEIVING — Windsor: Zach Moser 1-14, Brayden Pedersen 1-11, Brett Freitag 1-9, Hammond 1-6.Broomfield: Mazzola 4-70, Mason Keeler 2-13, Torres 1-10.