Cherokee Trail junior defensive back Evan Harrell (23) and teammates react after the Cougars’ 49-14 loss to Valor Christian in a Class 5A state football quarterfinal playoff game on Nov. 19, 2020, at Valor Christian High School. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

HIGHLANDS RANCH | Quickly, the Cherokee Trail football team found itself in a tough position it never could escape Thursday night against Valor Christian.

The second-seeded Eagles — playing without star running back Gavin Sawchuk, the Class 5A running leader — received the opening kickoff and rolled down the field on an uptempo 63-yard touchdown drive that left the seventh-seeded Cougars reeling and set the tone for a 49-14 5A state quarterfinal playoff victory.

Cherokee Trail had trouble slowing the Eagles offense, which generated more than 400 yards of total offense and rushed for six of its touchdowns (with a punt return score to boot) to move to 4-0 all-time against the Cougars in the postseason.

Valor Christian — which got four-touchdown game from junior Zachary Wiley — moves into the 5A semifinals, where it will face the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 6 Fairview and No. 3 Legend.

Coach Joe Johnson’s Cherokee Trail had its four-game winning streak snapped and finished the pandemic-shortened season 4-3 overall.

Senior quarterback Jayden Lavigne connected with junior wide receiver Kaelen Bing on a 52-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to give the Cougars some life, only to see the Eagles counter in just a minute.

Valor Christian invoked the running clock 40-point mercy rule late in the third quarter and the final points of the game went the Cougars on a short touchdown plunge by junior Ciaran Hyslop.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

(2) VALOR CHRISTIAN 49, (7) CHEROKEE TRAIL 14

Score by quarters:

Cherokee Trail    0    7   0  7 — 14

Valor Christian  14  21  14  0 — 49