ARVADA — Pomona senior quarterback Ryan Marquez is a kid who has led his team to back-to-back Class 5A state championship games, earning his reputation as a big-game player as soon as his sophomore campaign at the helm of coach Jay Madden's Panthers.
Senior tailback Max Borghi has also had a little bit of a say in the deep playoff runs.
On Friday night at the North Area Athletic Complex, the Fairview Knights found it very difficult to stop the experienced gunslinger and his backfield mate, as much as FHS tried to counter with its own batch of talented offensive players in the 2017 quarterfinals.
Marquez accounted for five 20-plus yard touchdown passes and Borghi scored on runs of 59 and 91 yards, lifting the Panthers over Fairview 48-31 on a chilly night on the foothills.
"The kid's a hell of a player," head coach Tom McCartney said of Marquez, "and of course, you have two backs that are going to make plays and four receivers that are going to make plays.
"They're really good, and we just gave it everything we had but fell a little bit short."
In reality, both sides tore up the field from an offensive standpoint, with Fairview (10-2) netting 600 yards of offense. But one would need only to look to the first couple possessions of the contest as a microcosm of the end result.
Fairview opened the game with a great drive that stalled out around the Pomona 20, and a 37-yard field goal attempt went wayward with a botched snap and hold.
Pomona (10-2) then struck first, and quickly, the very next play as Marquez hooked up with his favorite target, Billy Pospisil for a 76-yard strike to make it 7-0 for the Panthers.
Fairview scored 10 consecutive points, getting a field goal and then taking advantage of a Borghi fumble to gain a lead as Aidan Atkinson found Matt Greenwald for a 24-yard TD pass with 29.9 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Knights would score on just one of their next three possessions — all arguably good scoring opportunities — while Pomona found the end zone three times spilling over to the third quarter.
Atkinson was intercepted for just the fourth time all season on Fairview's first drive of the second quarter, and SchuettPelz-Rohl missed his first field goal attempt of the season wide left on a 32-yard attempt shortly after Borghi's first TD run make it 14-10 PHS.
Marquez, who threw for 326 yards on just 10 completions, hit Riley Govan for a 69-yard TD to make it 21-10, and it was 21-13 to start the third quarter when the Panthers drove 80 yards in just six plays to add to their already big lead.
"We had to settle for some field goals, and we missed a couple of field goals so that's points left out there that we needed," McCartney said. "I'm proud of our guys."
"They had two or three plays that really changed the game, and even at halftime we knew we had the team that could come back," added Greenwald, who plays both offense and defense and finished with seven catches for 105 yards. "It's hard especially in the red zone that's a place we like to capitalize and come up with seven. To keep coming up with three instead of seven, that's a big difference. They got in Aidan's face a little bit more down there."
Mariano Kemp finished with 33 carries for 213 yards and two touchdowns in his final game for FHS. For a large portion of the game, he arguably out-produced Borghi — until the game's final quarter when Borghi broke off an impressive run from the 9-yard line and out-paced the entire Knights secondary.
"We'll be back." Greenwald said. "I wish I could have done more for the seniors out there on the field tonight, but we're going to get back to work on Monday."
Pomona 48, Fairview 31
At North Area Athletic ComplexFairview (10-2)103711—31
Pomona — Billy Pospisil 76 pass from Ryan Marquez (Macguire Mallory kick). Fairview — Tevye SchuettPelz-Rohl 33 field goal. Fairview — Matt Greenwald 24 pass from Aidan Atkinson (SchuettPelz-Rohl kick).
Pomona — Max Borghi 59 run (Mallory kick). Pomona — Riley Govan 69 pass from Marquez (Mallory kick). Fairview — SchuettPelz-Rohl 33 field goal.
Pomona — Prospisil 24 pass from Marquez (Mallory kick). Fairview — Mariano Kemp 6 run (SchuettPelz-Rohl kick). Pomona — Prospisil 22 pass from Marquez (Mallory kick).
Fairview — SchuettPelz-Rohl 28 field goal. Pomona — Colton Muller 23 pass from Marquez (kick blocked).Pomona — Borghi 91 run (Mallory kick). Fairview — Kemp 1 run (SchuettPelz-Rohl pass from Atkinson).
RUSHING — Fairview: Mariano Kemp 33-213, Aidan Atkinson 5-25, Jacob Fenton 1-4. Pomona: Max Borghi 14-270, Theorius Robison 7-60, Ryan Marquez 3-(minus-15)
PASSING — Fairview: Atkinson 28-47-1-382. Pomona: Marquez 10-16-0-326.
RECEIVING — Fairview: Tevye SchuettPelz-Rohl 7-119, Matt Greenwald 7-105, Miles Morton 6-64, Kemp 3-36, Jake Sheerin 2-32, Jeff Erickson 2-18, Ashton Nichols 1-8. Pomona: Billy Pospisil 4-135, Colton Muller 4-87, Riley Govan 1-69, David Ross 1-35.