Daily Camera file photo
LAKEWOOD — For the first time this since Oct. 11 in a game with the Windsor Wizards, the Broomfield Eagles on Saturday afternoon faced true adversity and trailed in the fourth quarter of a football game.
In a dandy of a Class 4A semifinal football game at Jefferson County Stadium, Dakota Ridge quarterback Ben Gultig broke free for a big touchdown run of 35 yards on a read-option play that cut the Broomfield lead to 14-13. They chose to go for the two-point conversion and Gultig found a wide-open receiver to go ahead 15-14 with 6 minutes, 34 seconds remaining.
It took all three phases for the No. 2 seed Broomfield to rally in the final minutes and defeat the No. 6 seed Dakota Ridge, 17-15, on a game-winning 25-yard field goal from Matthew Eich at the end of regulation. For the first time since 2016, Broomfield earned the right to play in the 4A championship game, and it did so in grand fashion.
The 25-yard field goal is good and Broomfield wins.
Dakota Ridge 15
— Brandon Boles (@BrandonBoles) November 30, 2019
“The seniors this year were freshmen on that team (that played for state in 2016),” Broomfield coach Blair Hubbard said. “They were scout team kids and they knew what it was like to experience that. We knew they would have an opportunity if they stayed healthy and worked hard to get there.”
First, Broomfield (13-0) needed a stop after a punt that gave Dakota Ridge the ball with five and a half minutes remaining. Antonio Welch-Soto and Hall Edmonds stopped a couple of runs up the middle and Mahkai Piper recorded a sack on third down to get the three-and-out.
The stop was the biggest moment for a defense that recorded three turnovers in the game – two of which came in the red zone – that kept Broomfield close all game long. Simon Worthley led the Eagles in tackles and played a role in the first two turnovers of the game.
“As an outside linebacker, my goal is to keep the edge,” Worthley said. “When they pass, I just had to make sure (Dakota Ridge’s running back) did not have anything out of the backfield.”
Broomfield took over with three and a half minutes remaining looking to get its offense going. Despite some big runs from Caden Peters and two rushing scores in the second quarter, the Eagles were held in check by the Dakota Ridge defense.
Peters jump-started the offense with some early runs to move the chains, but it was quarterback Zachary Kapushion who was called on to get three fourth-down conversions that keep the last offensive drive alive for Broomfield.
A short run on fourth-and-1 pushed Broomfield past the midfield line and into Dakota Ridge territory. His next two conversions came through the air, finding Grant Swenson on a fourth-and-11 and River Juarez on a fourth-and-10 that put the Eagles just outside of the red zone in the final minute.
“The line was really locked in and gave me open throws,” Kapushion said. “Grant and River really stepped up. We had an out concept to the slot on the second (conversion), and the first one was a curl flat concept.”
The biggest play of the drive came on a scramble by Kapushion where he took a big hit out of bounds with nine seconds remaining. A penalty on the hit put the ball nine yards from the end zone and Broomfield chose to run the ball and get it in the center of the field with Peters for the game-winning field goal attempt.
“It hurt, but I knew I had to get up for the team,” Kapushion said.
Eich’s kick completed the comeback in the biggest game of the season for Broomfield and was executed perfectly.
“We knew if we got the snap and hold that he would put it through,” Hubbard said.
Peters finished with 196 of the team’s 260 rushing yards and both touchdowns, and Kapushion threw for 50 yards on four completions in the win. Dakota Ridge had 329 total yards of offense, 150 of which came on the first two offensive drives, but also turned the ball over three times compared to one by Broomfield.
The win will see Broomfield play for the Class 4A state championship on Dec. 7 versus the Pine Creek Eagles after their 34-0 win over Pueblo West in the other semifinal game on Saturday. The championship game will be played at 1 p.m. Empower Field at Mile High in Denver.
“I can’t describe the feeling, it’s a great feeling,” Kapushion said. “It means everything. We have another week with our brothers.”