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Rebels persevere

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Knock off Chaparral, advance to quarterfinals

By Dan Johnson

PARKER - Columbine football coach Andy Lowry is known for his calm demeanor.

No matter how well his teams play, Lowry never gets wrapped up in the result, instead preferring to keep his focus on what lies next for his team.

This year, though, things are different, both for the Columbine football team, and for Lowry, who showed a burst of emotion in the post-game huddle after his team surprised many with a 21-13 victory over Chaparral in the second round of the Class 5A state tournament at Burt.com Stadium.

The coach deviated from his usual script and went improv on his team. He hooted, he hollered and he smiled – a lot. The message to his team was simple: believe in yourselves and you can do anything.

“That’s why I got so animated; they did something that was not their nature,” Lowry said. “I know these kids can be better than what they think they are. I just need them to believe it.”

The win moves the 10th-seeded Rebels (8-3) into the quarterfinals, where they will travel to Boulder to take on No. 2 Fairview (11-0) at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20.

Trailing 13-7 at halftime against the No. 7 Wolverines, Lowry’s rag-tag bunch, which is missing do-everything quarterback Danny Spond, finally began to play with the passion and desire that the four-time state championship coach demands from his players.

The offensive line, which has taken some heat this season for its inconsistent play, dominated the line of scrimmage when it mattered most – late in the fourth quarter.

After taking a 14-13 lead midway through the third quarter, Columbine’s defense preserved the margin with a couple of key stops deep inside its own territory. With 6 minutes, 42 seconds to play, Columbine took over possession on its own 29-yard line and put together a classic Columbine drive.

Demetrius McDondle carried the ball six times on the nine-play drive, which chewed up over four minutes on the game clock. His final carry was a 21-yard scamper into the end zone that put the Rebels up 21-13 with 2:14 to play.

Columbine’s defense didn’t allow the Wolverines any breathing room and a second down sack by Kevin Osborne but the home team in trouble and they eventually turned the ball over on downs for the third time in the half, cementing Columbine’s upset win.

“The second half was as good as I’ve seen our defense play,” Lowry said.

Chaparral had little trouble moving the ball against Columbine in the first half, and likely could’ve been up by more than six points, but a missed field goal and a stalled drive in Rebel territory kept Columbine in the game.

The Rebels scored the game’s first points in the second quarter when Phil Romero, operating out of the Wildcat formation, scored on a 29-yard run. Romero led the Rebels with 112 yards on 19 carries.

Chaparral answered right back with a seven-play drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by bruising fullback, Jordan West.

Quarterback Andrew Loudenback marched the Wolverines down the field late in the first half, hitting passes of seven and 12 yards before throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass off a play-action fake to Jordan Serena to put his team up 13-7.

After the halftime break, Chaparral fumbled the ball away on its first two drives and Columbine took advantage of the second turnover as McDondle (85 yards on 19 carries) scored on a 1-yard run that ultimately proved to be the game-winning score.

“We knew Chaparral was a good team,” said senior safety/wide receiver, Sean Neu, who recovered the second Chaparral fumble. “We played with a lot of toughness and came together as a team. It feels really good to come away with the win.”