Friday night’s 4A state quarterfinal football game between No. 8 Rampart and No. 1 Pine Creek was a true definition of a tale of two halves.
The first half of the all-Pikes Peak region showdown was a tight contest between the hometown rivals, with chilly, but not unbearable conditions.
But as teams left the field to head into the locker room at halftime, the weather, and the pace of the game shifted.
Teams returned to the field facing rain, then sleet, then snow. But Pine Creek had what it took to overcome the changing conditions and take control in the second half to claim a 29-7 victory over Rampart in their very own snow bowl.
Nearly an inch of snow covered the turf at D-20 Stadium, but senior cornerback Xavier Hill didn’t notice.
“It is cold, it is insanely cold, but I don’t feel it because I’m so hype right now,” Hill said. “I’m almost on fire. This was a really good win for us today, and I feel good about what we did out there on the field.”
Hill changed the momentum midway through the second quarter as he scooped a Rampart fumble that was stripped by linebacker Sam Miller, and returned it for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 17-7 lead.
“That was huge because it made it a (two)-score game, and that was big, it opened up our playbook, and all of a sudden they’re limited,” Pine Creek coach Todd Miller said.
In addition to a number of tackles on defense, Hill also threw his hat in offensively for a 4-yard touchdown late in the third quarter as he was filling in for a few injured teammates.
“Wyatt (Wieland) went down early in the second half, and David (Moore III) was sick, and we were just down,” Todd Miller said. “During the week of practice about a third of our team had the flu and we were just recovering coming into today. But Hill stepped in and our kids gutted it out and just played.”
Wieland was responsible for Pine Creek’s most exciting play of the day, a 61-yard reception from JC Coulter early in the second quarter to give the Eagles their first lead.
Rampart’s lone score was a 6-yard rush by Jackson Beale with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Jared Behm and Keion Cross had a number of carries up the middle, and found holes in the Pine Creek defense early in the first half, but adjustments and the changing weather halted the Rams’ momentum.
“We adapted to the weather a little easier than Rampart, I think,” Todd Miller said. “We’ve been here before. I believe our seniors, this was their 11th or 10th playoff game, so with that being said, we don’t panic and we keep playing our game.”
Moore had an 11-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles a comfortable win in whiteout conditions.
No. 1 seed Pine Creek moved to 11-1 and No. 8 Rampart finished its season at 9-3. Pine Creek will face the winner of Saturday’s Chatfield vs. Pueblo West game in next week’s semifinals.