BOULDER — The state’s RPI debacle has even slipped into the 8-man ranks.
All Justice coach Nels Thoreson and his Justice Phoenix can do is just go out and try and win football games.
“We were trying to keep math into the equation,” Thoreson said.
On Saturday, the Phoenix had an opportunity to silence their computerized critics and stake their claim to the top spot in the Class A 8-man’s Central League against No. 10 Pikes Peak Christian.
But crucial mistakes at inopportune times cost them, and it was the visiting Eagles (currently No. 9 in the RPI) that walked away from Christian Recht Field with a 29-18 victory.
“The RPI will be the first thing I look at when I wake up tomorrow morning,” said Thoreson, whose team dropped from No. 15 to No. 17 last week after a decisive 52-0 rout of Miami-Yoder. “It’s an interesting thing and it didn’t work for us last week at all and (despite losing) we might go up with how it works.
“We are going to try and win next week (against Rocky Mountain Lutheran) and leave it up to the math gods.”
Justice (5-2, 3-1) knew exactly what they were getting in the run-happy Eagles from Colorado Springs and for a majority of the game they were up to the challenge.
The Phoenix defense was stout against Pike Peak Christian’s two-headed monster of Vaughn Schrock and Hunter Grant, limiting them to just 98 yards in the first half and just one score.
Justice went to halftime only down 8-6 after Julio Marquez’s touchdown pass to Eriq Warren cut into the Eagles lead late in the second quarter.
The third quarter proved to be a challenge for the Phoenix, who after giving up a touchdown on the Eagles’ opening drive to Schrock from 1-yard out turned the ball over on the next three possessions via interception.
Pikes Peak Christian (7-1, 4-0) only turned one of them into points, but the two score margin had it’s affect.
Marquez made the biggest play of the game early in the fourth on the defensive side of the ball. He grabbed the quarterbacks option pitch and went 45-yards to cut the Eagles lead to 22-12.
“I read that perfectly and we were game planning all week for when they do that, that the guys was not eligible and I knew exactly what they were going to do,” said Marquez, who along with his Phoenix teammates drew rave reviews from Eagles coach Kelvin Thorne after the game. “And just watching film, it just takes practice.”
After another Eagles score midway through the fourth, time became the enemy for Justice, who got one last score on a Marquez to Justin Hunyadi (who finished with five catches for 98 yards) with 4:09 to play.
Marquez will have his team hungry for redemption next week and they will have to have a short memory to focus on a potential playoff berth.
“Our reputation from prior years hurts us but that’s just motivation too,” Marquez said. “Every time people doubt us, we are going to use it to get better.”
PIKES PEAK CHRISTIAN 29, JUSTICE 18
At Christian Recht Field
Pikes Peak Chr. (7-1, 4-0)
Justice (5-2, 3-1)
Pikes Peak Christian — Vaughn Schrock 35 pass from Jackson Thorne (Schrock pass from Thorne).
Justice — Eriq Warren 20 pass from Julio Marquez (run failed).
Pikes Peak Christian — Schrock 1 run (pass failed).
Pikes Peak Christian — Schrock 38 run (Hudson Grant pass from Thorne).
Justice — Marquez 45 fumble recovery (run failed).
Pikes Peak Christian — Hunter Grant 4 run (Tommy Harmon kick).
Justice — Justin Hunyadi 28 pass from Marquez (pass failed).
RUSHING — Pikes Peak Christian: Hunter Grant 26-151, Vaughn Schrock 18-134, Ethan Sherman 5-13, Jackson Thorne 1-(minus-1). Justice: Jerald Romero 12-87, Julio Marquez 10-47, Abraham Dauphinais 3-16, Izzy Farah 2-7.
PASSING — Pikes Peak Christian: Thorne 3-4-0-84, Sherman 0-2-0-0. Justice: Marquez 8-21-3-135, Romero 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Pikes Peak Christian: Schrock 3-84. Justice: Justin Hunyadi 5-98, Eriq Warren 1-20, Romero 1-17, Dauphinais 1-0.