Saturday's prep roundup: Vista Ridge football ends five-game playoff losing streak

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FOOTBALL

No. 14 Vista Ridge 39, No. 3 Fruita Monument 34

At Stocker Stadium: Rowan Neal returned to his starting quarterback position and threw two touchdown passes, ran for one and caught another to help Vista Ridge to its first playoff victory since 2012.

"He hadn't started a game for us in six weeks, and he comes in and plays a phenomenal game," Wolves coach Jerimi Calip said. "Here's a kid who got benched early, but was told that he'd never know when he'd get another opportunity. We packaged him in, and he had the hot hand."

Jaylen Thomas, the team's starting quarterback since late September, had three rushing touchdowns and found Neal for another through the air for the Wolves (7-4), who will meet No. 6 Pueblo South (10-1) in next weekend's quarterfinal round.

Behind 20- and 62-yard scoring runs from Thomas in the first quarter, Vista Ridge built an early 12-0 lead, and the Wolves never trailed.

"We stopped them from establishing the run and forced them to play our game," Calip said. "If you play your game, you can play with anyone. You just have to control what you can control."

Jeffery Crittendon had a touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter for the eventual game-winning score - it gave the Wolves a 39-27 lead - and added a clutch interception in the closing moments near midfield.

Since moving up from 3A prior to the 2012 season, Vista Ridge has reached the playoffs each time but fell in the first round the past four years. In 2012, the Wolves knocked off Canon City in the first round but lost to eventual state champ Monarch the next week in a dramatic 28-21 home loss.

No. 4 La Junta 21, No. 5 TCA 14

At La Junta: Jon Nuschy's 5-yard touchdown run broke a 14-all tie with 8:11 left to lift defending 2A state champ La Junta (10-1) past TCA (9-2).

Cade Bethany tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Jensen Hall for the Titans, whose only losses this season came to La Junta. During 2A Tri-Peaks League play, TCA fell to the Tigers, 21-11.

Bethany's 33-yard strike to Bethany gave TCA a 14-7 lead with 6:20 left in the third quarter.

No. 1 Mead 56, No. 16 Harrison 19

At Mead: Nathan Mackey ran for three touchdowns and had another through the air, and Mead (11-0) turned three first-half Harrison (8-3) turnovers into scores to turn its 3A first-round contest into a rout.

Mackey's first score, a 2-yard run, gave the Mavericks an early 7-0 lead, but the Panthers countered on a 66-yard touchdown strike from Orlando Westbrook to David Barrow to tie the game.

A 4-yard touchdown from by Tyler Keys gave Mead a 14-7 lead, then following a Harrison fumble, Keys tossed a 29-yard scoring pass to Brady Veltien.

Mead picked off Westbrook on the Panthers' next two drives. First, Mackey ended a Mavericks drive with a 6-yard run, then on the ensuing possession, Ryan Lavanchy returned an interception 50 yards to make it a 35-7 game.

Barrow added a 66-yard touchdown run just before halftime to reduce the deficit to 35-13, and Westbrook had a 23-yard scoring pass to finish the scoring for the Panthers, who started 8-0 before finishing with three straight setbacks.

VOLLEYBALL

Coronado 3, Rock Canyon 2 (pool play)

Rock Canyon 1, Coronado 0 (tiebreaker)

At Denver Coliseum: Coronado (23-4) won its final pool-play match at the state tournament, knocking off Rock Canyon in five games, but fell to the same Jaguars, 25-20, soon after in a one-set tiebreaker.

Castle View, Rock Canyon and Coronado all went 1-1 during pool play, forcing a three-way tiebreaker to determine the 5A semifinalist in Pool 3. Castle View eventually emerged, outlasting Rock Canyon, 25-23 in the second tiebreaker.

Palmer Ridge 3, Discovery Canyon 0

At Denver Coliseum: Summer Reflogal chalked up 10 kills, and Mac Russ added nine as Palmer Ridge (24-3) swept Discovery Canyon (15-12) in a pool-play matchup featuring teams making their first 4A state tournament appearances.

The Bears, who earned the No. 4 overall seed but lost to No. 5 Niwot on Friday, dominated the Thunder 25-13, 25-19, 25-12.

Pueblo West 3, Cheyenne Mountain 1

At Denver Coliseum: Cheyenne Mountain (10-17) fell to Pueblo West, 28-26, 25-18, 17-25, 25-12 to finish pool play winless in two matches.