ARVADA — Andrew Wingard was exactly the do-it-all player for Ralston Valley that Fairview was afraid he could be on Friday night.
And as the Knights continued to give him more opportunities to handle the ball on the frozen tundra of the North Area Athletic Complex, the points just rolled up on the scoreboard.
Did they ever. Wingard scored six touchdowns, but Ralston Valley didn’t stop there. Fairview’s five turnovers added logs to the fire, and the Mustangs advanced to next week’s Class 5A semifinals with a 71-29 victory.
Fairview had another great season end miserably, finishing at 11-1.
“We had a great season, had a lot of fun, and we just have to look at it like, there were 50 teams sitting at home tonight,” senior Steve D’Epagnier said. “It’s a shame it had to end like this, but you take the positives and move on.
“It was a track meet, and we tried making adjustments on defense. We had to play the perfect game, and that’s just not how it worked out.”
Perhaps most surprising about the whole thing was the Knights’ inability to get on the scoreboard in the second half, completely turning around a tight game loaded with first-half fireworks.
Ralston Valley scored touchdowns on four of the five turnovers, which included three interceptions and two fumbles. The hosts ate up the yards on the ground, accumulating 446 yards rushing among five players, and added 36 points to their total in the final 24 minutes of play while blanking the classification’s highest-scoring team through 11 weeks at the same time.
“We’re kind of that gunslinging team, and I felt like we wanted to keep doing that and we created some short fields for them, and that hurts,” head coach Tom McCartney said, his team still winners of 24 of their past 26 games. “You have to give (Ralston Valley) credit because they were physical on both sides of the ball. They were hard-hitting and they deserved it.”
Wingard finished with 163 yards but scored five times on rushes. He also added a 95-yard kickoff return for a score, throwing wrenches into Fairview’s plans every time he touched the ball.
“They deserved the win, and they had the right group of guys for their game plan,” Fairview senior captain Luke Miller said. “It was very frustrating that they were able to push piles. Our second half plan was to stop that, but obviously it didn’t happen.”
Fairview’s Johnny Feauto set a school record for single-season passing yards, passing Taylor Tharp and finishing with 3,976 in 2014, but he was chased down for 60 yards in losses on sacks and threw two of the picks. His second interception, which came off the hands of Connor May and into the hands of Logan Weimers, negated a fumble recovery that turned out to be Ralston Valley’s only mistake.
That came at the start of the third quarter, when a Fairview touchdown could have given the Knights a lead after the teams went to halftime with RVHS up 35-29. Instead, Wingard’s first of three second-half TDs made it 41-29.
Fairview’s offense never sniffed the end zone again, and another sack of Feauto in the end zone that made it 50-29 was a dagger.
Wingard was a force in all facets of the game in the first half, and it paid dividends for Ralston Valley as the hosts clung to that six-point halftime lead.
Entering the game with 28 combined touchdowns, he responded to Fairview’s opening score — a 33-yard TD pass from Feauto to David McWilliams — with a 95-yard kickoff return on a reverse. After intercepting a pass in the middle of the second stanza, Wingard then made it 35-21 with a 3-yard sweep with 4 minutes, 20 seconds to go in the half.
Fairview’s last drive of the second quarter gave hope the Knights would battle back, but it was a wild sequence that included two sacks of Feauto adding up to 30 yards and a 25-yard completion on a third-and-20. Feauto finished the drive with a 29-yard pass play to May, giving him 40 TD passes for the season.
The second half belonged to the Mustangs, who will face Cherry Creek next week.
“We’re proud of our guys and of our season,” McCartney said.
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RALSTON VALLEY 71, FAIRVIEW 29
At North Area Athletic Complex
Fairview (11-1) 21 8 0 0 — 29
Ralston Valley (12-0) 21 14 15 21 — 71
Fairview — David McWilliams 33 pass from Johnny Feauto (Raul Magno kick). Ralston Valley — Andrew Wingard 95 kickoff return (Collin Root kick). Fairview — Tim Ryan 18 pass from Feauto (Magno kick). Ralston Valley — Wingard 57 run (Root kick). Ralston Valley — Dalton Pribble 17 pass from Cooper Loyd (Root kick). Fairview — Jason Harvey 1 run (Magno kick).
Ralston Valley — Root 18 pass from Chase Hettley (Root kick). Ralston Valley — Wingard 3 run (Root kick). Fairview — Connor May 29 pass from Feauto (Harvey pass from Feauto).
Ralston Valley — Wingard 3 run (run failed). Ralston Valley — Wingard 1 run (Root kick). Ralston Valley — Safety (Feauto sacked in end zone).
Ralston Valley — Wingard 8 run (Root kick). Ralston Valley — Pribble 12 run (Root kick). Ralston Valley — Josh Jacobsen 5 run (Root kick).
RUSHING — Fairview: Jason Harvey 7-72, Tim Ryan 1-3, Thomas Creese 1-(minus-10), Johnny Feauto 8-(minus-60). Ralston Valley: Andrew Wingard 22-163, Kyle Rush 18-126, Anthony Falbo 9-52, Chase Hettley 1-4, Dalton Pribble 3-31, Noah Wells 1-55, Josh Jacobsen 1-5
PASSING — Fairview: Feauto 23-33-2-320, Creese 0-1-1-0. Ralston Valley: Cooper Loyd 2-3-0-30, Hettley 3-3-0-67.
RECEIVING — Fairview: Steve D’Epagnier 7-91, Connor May 4-86, Harvey 5-60, Tim Ryan 5-40, David McWilliams 1-33, Quinn Sharp 1-5. Ralston Valley: Collin Root 3-62, Jake Jelinek 1-18, Pribble 1-17.