THORNTON — Whatever magic the Legacy football team had that allowed the Lightning to nearly upset Fairview in the regular season finale was nowhere to be found in the postseason.
The fourth seed in Quadrant 2 of the Class 5A postseason bracket, the Lightning fell behind the fifth-seeded Eaglecrest Raptors and couldn’t keep pace on the way to a 49-24 first-round loss.
“I have no clue what happened,” Lightning quarterback Matt Lynch said. “Our team is so up and down. If something gets in our heads, we start going down. If we get a good play, we start going up. Good plays are what fuels games like the one we had with Fairview. We just didn’t have enough tonight.”
Against the Raptors, the Lightning players couldn’t get out of their own way. Six turnovers, included four interceptions from Lynch, halted several attempts at a comeback.
Eaglecrest took an early lead with a 47-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Elijah Ross to Matt Lally on the game’s opening drive. Legacy responded with a big play of its own to cap its first drive, scoring on a 58-yard run by quarterback Lynch. The Raptors quickly retook the lead on another long touchdown pass from Ross.
Set up by a 36-yard pass from Lynch to Jack Ruscher, Lightning kicker Huntor Rainwater hit a 20-yard field goal as time ran out in the second quarter to cut the lead to 14-10 at halftime.
The Lightning (6-4) and Raptors (5-5) matched one another with a touchdown apiece in the third quarter but the Raptors slammed the door shut with 28 consecutive points in the fourth quarter.
“They just outplayed us,” Lynch said. “We just went with what we planned on all week and they probably did the same thing. In the end, they just outplayed us every single drive.”
Legacy tailback Connor Connolly, who has scored a touchdown in six consecutive games and has found the end zone seven times in the past three games, couldn’t find any running room on Friday night. He finished his final game with game with 35 yards on 13 carries but did score with 10.8 seconds left in the game.
Both the Raptors’ passing and rushing leader, Ross was the as-advertised dual threat against the Lightning. He passed for 357 yards, rushed for 153 more and accounted for six of Eaglecrest’s seven touchdowns.
“I thought we did a lot of good things for three quarters and then it got away from us,” Lightning head coach Wayne Vorhees said. “They forced us into doing some things that we had to try to do and we turned the ball over and gave them some short fields. They were pretty quick up front on both sides of the ball and that kind of got to us. We got more and more frustrated.”
Lynch finished the game with 114 passing yards, including a 3-yard scoring toss to Kai Ahmadu in the third quarter. Lynch also led the Lightning with 139 yards rushing.
The Raptors will play Quadrant 2 top seed Ralston Valley (10-0) in the second round next week.
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Eaglecrest 49, Legacy 24
At 1st Bank Field
Eaglecrest (5-5) 14 0 7 28 — 49
Legacy (6-4) 7 3 7 7 — 24
Eaglecrest — Matt Lally 47 pass from Elijah Ross (Lally kick). Legacy — Matt Lynch 58 run (Huntor Rainwater kick). Eaglecrest — Peter Anderson 36 pass from Ross (Lally kick).
Legacy — Rainwater 20 field goal.
Eaglecrest — Anthony Karmayzn 37 pass from Ross (Lally kick). Legacy — Kai Ahmadu 3 pass from Lynch (Rainwater kick).
Eaglecrest — Ross 5 run (Lally kick). Eaglecrest — Scott Neal 2 run (Lally kick). Eaglecrest — Anderson 29 pass from Ross (Lally kick). Eaglecrest — Anderson 3 pass from Ross (Lally kick). Legacy — Connor Connolly 1 run (Rainwater kick).
RUSHING — Eaglecrest: Elijah Ross 19-153, Glann Washington 13-41, Cole Leroy 5-49, Blake Robinson 1-(-12), Scott Neal 2-10, Darian Turner 8-67. Legacy: Connor Connolly 13-35, Matt Lynch 8-139, Khamel Robinson 9-67, Dalton Royer 1-2.
PASSING — Eaglecrest: Elijah Ross 20-28-1-357. Legacy: Matt Lynch 9-27-4-114.
RECEIVING — Eaglecrest: Peter Anderson 5-116, Anthony Karmayzn 5-127, Matt Lally 4-79, Cole Leroy 1-5, Colby Ross 2-24. Legacy: Dalton Royer 2-47, Jack Ruscher 2-45, Derek Coleman 1-8, Hayden Anderson 1-2, Quinten Rodriguez 1-7, Connor Connolly 1-2, Kai Ahmadu 1-3.