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  • Mark Leffingwell / Staff Photographer

    Boulder's Mikey Thompson tries to avoid the tackle of Westminster's Jeff Kaczor after a long run on the opening kick. More photos: BoCoPreps.com

  • Mark Leffingwell / Staff Photographer

    Boulder's TJ Jones tries to break to the outside while being pursued by the Westminster defense during their game in Westminster.

  • Mark Leffingwell / Staff Photographer

    Boulder's Max Bajza, right, passes under pressure from Westminster's Cody Ingraham.

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WESTMINSTER – Boulder entered Friday night with ambitions of nabbing at least a share of the Flatirons League title.

After an early onslaught of Westminster explosion plays quickly dashed those hopes, the Panthers have a new focus.

The playoffs.

The visiting Panthers knew they faced a tough one against the unbeaten Wolves, who blasted their way to a league crown with an emphatic 56-16 win. But for the first time in since 2010, the regular-season finale didn’t effectively symbolize the end for the Panthers.

“It’s a much better vibe, but I expected more competing for a championship,” Panthers coach Bob Simmons said. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong and every mistake bit us, but credit to Westminster. They played a hell of a ballgame.”

The Panthers (5-4, 5-2) simply couldn’t contain the Wolves’ stable of backs, particularly Dakota Lowery. Lowery’s four touchdown runs spanned 195 yards, and the Panthers also surrendered a 97-yard kickoff return to Tristan Jiron in the first quarter. Boulder trailed 40-16 after a first half in which they yielded touchdown runs of 29, 35, 62 and 67 yards.

“This left a bad taste in our mouths, but it’s been a good season,” Simmons said. “There’s a lot of pride in this program and this team. Unfortunately tonight we had interceptions, kickoff returns and the whole formula of mistakes.”

Despite entering the night as one of only three undefeated teams in 5A, Westminster hasn’t broken into the AP Media Poll this season. The Wolves (9-0, 7-0), the second team receiving votes outside the poll, will have a chance to prove their worth in the classification’s early-starting postseason.

The same is true for Boulder, which will anxiously await its seed in the 32-team field. The loss ruled out any hopes for a home game for the Panthers, but they’ll almost assuredly be in the bracket.

“It’s good for us to look forward and see what we have next,” said Boulder running back TJ Jones, whose team has played inconsequential, non-bracket games in Week 10 over the past several seasons. “We haven’t been in the playoffs for awhile, so this is a really exciting moment for us going into next week.”

Jones scored rushing touchdowns Nos. 26 and 27, but was held to 59 yards on 18 carries. Quarterback Max Bajza threw for 205 yards but was picked off twice in the first half. Panthers receiver Jake L’Heureux caught five passes for 107 yards.

Westminster averages 320 yards a game on the ground and had 477 in this one. Although Boulder is pumped for the postseason, the Panthers were clearly disappointed after this one.

“We expected a win,” Jones said. “That’s how we always come into games, but it didn’t go the way we thought it would.”

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Westminster 56, Boulder 16

At District 50 Stadium

Boulder (5-4, 5-2) 3 13 0 0 — 16

Westminster (9-0, 7-0) 22 18 8 8 — 56

First quarter

Westminster — Brandon Dickerson 3 run (Dillon Pace run). Westminster — Dakota Lowery 29 run (run failed). Boulder — Ismael Bouchta 33 FG. Westminster — Tristan Giron 97 kickoff return (Lowery run).

Second quarter

Westminster — Jeff Kaczor 35 run (run failed). Boulder — TJ Jones 1 run (Bouchta kick). Westminster — Lowery 62 run (run failed). Boulder — Jones 6 run (run failed). Westminster — Lowery 67 run (pass failed).

Third quarter

Westminster — Lowery 37 run (Marcus Martinez run).

Fourth quarter

Westminster — Martinez 8 run (Martinez run).

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Boulder: TJ Jones 18-59, Max Bajza 4-(minus 1). Westminster: Dakota Lowery 13-231, Jaff Kaczor 8-101, Dillon Pace 8-71, Marcus Martinez 6-37, Brandon Dickerson 12-35, Nate Juarbe 1-2.

PASSING — Boulder: Bajza 13-26-2-205, Aiden Chandler 1-4-0-10. Westminster: Spencer Gilvin 1-4-0-22.

RECEIVING — Boulder: Jake L’Heureux 5-107, Mikey Thompson 3-57, Kobi Boynton 4-34, Jones 1-11, Scott Slaugh 1-6. Westminster: Westminster: Juarbe 1-22.