Pomona turns over in Rebels’ quarterfinal win

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By Alissa Noe

LAKEWOOD — This could very well be Columbine football’s year. All signs are pointing to it.

On Friday night at Jeffco Stadium, the Rebels continued their dominant, undefeated charge toward the 5A state title game with a 41-14 victory over Pomona in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. And, even though the Panthers had the added firepower of two of their top men in Therious Robison and Sanjay Strickland — a luxury they didn’t have when the two teams first met — history still repeated itself.

When the two squads played just four weeks earlier, Pomona was plagued with turnovers every time the Panthers started to make progress. The Rebels kept with that game strategy on Friday after finding themselves in an unfamiliar position: down 7-0 very early into play.

“That was our goal. We needed to be plus in the turnovers, so we got what we needed,” said senior lineman Ben Earnest, who started the Columbine turnover train with an interception at the beginning of the second quarter. “We just carried a lot of momentum into that, and our offense came out and got some points there.”

They completed the contest with three interceptions and a fumble recovery. After all, they weren’t willing to let Pomona continue its playoff win streak against them.

“Over the course of the years, we’ve had to play each other twice a year, and it seems like we’ve come on the short end of it in playoff time,” head coach Andy Lowry said. “… They’ve knocked us out way too many times, so I’m proud of our guys for how hard we fought.

“That’s a very good football team and very well-coached. They’ve been to the last three state championships. Popping them off was going to be a huge obstacle, especially playing them four weeks ago.”

Throughout the night, the Rebels honed in on their run game as usual. Junior running back Adam Harrington led the offensive charge with 127 total yards and three touchdowns (17 TDs this season), followed by Hollens who had 103 and a touchdown.

Senior quarterback Logan DeArment also secured 127, though 110 yards came off of six passes. He threw for two TDs, with Justin Lohrenz taking the other one.

On top of all that, Columbine got to show off its kicking game with a 37-yard field goal from Adam Tasei and a subsequent 42-yarder from DeArment.

“It feels great when you run up and cross that line, there’s nothing better when the ref puts his hands up. Just looking at the board, helping my team the best I can, that just feels great,” Harrington said.

The Rebels got off to a slow start as the Panthers plowed through Columbine’s defense. Just a minute and a half into the game, Pomona’s Riley Welsch punched in a touchdown with a 14-yard run to put his team up 7-0.

Not to be upstaged, the Rebels scored on the very next drive with a 20-yard pass from DeArment to Lohrenz and tied things up.

At the start of the second quarter, the Rebels found themselves with their backs against the wall on a fourth-and-5 from the 20-yard line. Instead of going for it, they pulled out a seldom-used tactic as Tasei attempted the 37-yarder. He flatlined the kick, which dinked its way through the uprights after hitting the crossbar.

Columbine gained its first lead of the game, 10-7, and only went up from there. At the half, the Rebels led 20-7.

Just as they did in the first half, the Panthers emerged from the break with their claws out and, three minutes in, scored their second and final touchdown from Robison.

The Rebels shut them down from there on out.

“Defensively, I think we probably did a better job of making adjustments. We had a bunch of huge plays. Offensively-wise, they beat us up up front a little bit. We didn’t have our best offensive game,” Lowry said. “… We left plenty of plays on the field, so we have to get back together. It seems like we scored a lot of points, but when you get (four) extra possessions off of turnovers, you better do something.”

The Rebels return home on Friday at 7 p.m. for their biggest test of the season thus far in No. 3 overall seed Cherry Creek. Throughout much of the regular season, the Bruins held the No. 1 spot in the CHSAANow.com poll before Columbine eclipsed them four weeks ago, just after it defeated Pomona the first time.