LAKEWOOD — Despite what the 48-28 score might suggest, Chatfield gave Pomona all it could handle deep into the fourth quarter Oct. 2.
Just don’t expect the Chargers to feel good about it.
“Everybody keeps telling us that we’re getting moral victories. We’re kind of sick of hearing that we’re so close every time,” senior linebacker/fullback Zach Moisey said. “We need to come together as a team. We’ve been busting our butt in practice, we’ve been busting our butt out on the field, we just need to put together the big drives on offense and our defense needs to be more hard-nosed and stop them up front.”
After pushing Class 5A Big 8 League powers Columbine and Bear Creek to the limit, the Chargers did it again against a Pomona team Chatfield coach Bret McGatlin called the best team the Chargers have played this season.
“We keep telling the guys we’re close, but we’re just not getting over that hump yet,” McGatlin said.
Chatfield (1-3 Big 8, 3-3 overall) recovered from a lifeless start and 14-0 deficit to tie the game at 21 before halftime. A scoreless third quarter set up a wild fourth where the Chargers battled until turning the ball over on fourth down with 1:54 remaining at Jefferson County Stadium.
But the rub for the Chargers was their scoreless first and third quarters where they totaled zero first downs.
Chatfield passed effectively but struggled running the ball unless it was in the hands of quarterback Sam Stratton, who fooled the Panthers (4-0, 6-0) by dropping back into the pocket before scrambling.
Stratton ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, and McGatlin got creative in the second quarter as the Chargers executed a perfect hook-and-lateral to spring Scott Kellogg for a 42-yard touchdown run.
Stratton ran for 108 yards and threw for 223, hooking up with Kellogg nine times for 163 yards. Junior tight end Kyle Slavin caught five passes for 35 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown catch with 8 seconds remaining in the first half to knot the score.
Chatfield got the ball to start the second half but failed to pick up a first down. Danny Newkirk recovered a fumble to kill Pomona’s subsequent drive but the Chargers again went three-and-out and were forced to punt.
“We just didn’t take advantage of those opportunities,” McGatlin said. “When we did stop them, then we didn’t do anything with it.”
The Chargers went three-and-out on five drives compared to none by the Panthers. The only time Pomona was forced to punt before getting a first down the drive was sustained after the Chargers roughed the punter.
Pomona served up a heavy dose of senior running back Donovan Bowens, who ran for 126 yards on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns. The Panthers’ burgeoning passing attack was ruthlessly effective as quarterback Nathan Grimes completed nine passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns.
Grimes ran for 124 yards, 92 of which came with under a minute remaining when he broke through on a dive play and ran to the end zone.
Junior wideout Drew Ebner dropped a sure touchdown on Pomona’s opening drive but he went on to catch four passes – all for touchdowns – for 134 yards, including a 44-yard strike from halfback/backup quarterback Dylan Buononato.
“We showed life at points throughout the game instead of the whole game,” Moisey said. “We’re looking forward to next week.”