AURORA | Seyi Oladipo had quite a day Friday, both on and off the field.
A few hours before kickoff of the opening game of the coronavirus-delayed season, the Eaglecrest star gave his verbal commitment to Division I Boise State, then gave a command performance to help his Raptors to a big opening win at Legacy Stadium.
Oladipo had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the opening half, gave a passionate halftime speech to spur on his teammates and then contributed a 98-yard return for a score in a big second half as Eaglecrest topped Cherokee Trail 62-50 in an explosive Centennial League opener.
“We came out slow in the first half, but we played our brand of football in the second half where it was just go, go, go and they couldn’t keep up with us,” said Oladipo, who gave his verbal commitment to Boise State a few hours before kickoff.
Indeed, coach Shawn Marsh’s Raptors played at a different level in the final two quarters, as they outscored the Cougars 35-7 in the final two quarters to erase a 16-point halftime deficit to win a game that saw the teams combined for 16 touchdowns and 112 points.
Besides Oladipo’s heroics, Colorado recruit Ty Robinson caught a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Khalil Howard (who finished with nearly 300 yards of total offense and three touchdowns against his former team) and made the biggest defensive play of the game with an interception in the closing minutes and Colorado State pledge Langston Williams had 100 yards receiving and blocked a punt that set up a score and stressed the Cherokee Trail defense all night with his speed.
Marsh marveled at how many difference-making plays he got, especially from his seniors.
“We’re very blessed, we have a lot of athletes and you don’t coach that,” he said. “We made a lot of mistakes, but because the kids are such good athletes, we were able to overcome those.”
Coach Joe Johnson’s Cougars — who won last season’s regular season finale against the Raptors — got off to a fantastic start in the opening quarter when Gabe Walker pounced on a loose ball in the end zone after a bad snap on an Eaglecrest punt and finished the opening quarter with an eight-point advantage after Jack Pierce capped the quarter with a 94-yard burst to the end zone, the first of his three touchdowns on the night.
Senior quarterback threw touchdown passes to Pierce and Nate Burke in the second quarter, which junior Nate Gaye Jr. capped with his second rushing touchdown to give the Cougars a 43-27 halftime edge.
As easily as the points flowed in the opening half, they dried up for Cherokee Trail in the second half as Pierce’s 11-yard run in the opening minutes of the final quarter — which kept the Cougars in front at the time — marked its only score.
Robinson hauled in his second touchdown pass from Howard with 4:50 left in the third quarter to make it an eight-point game and the quarter ended with Eaglecrest down just two after Williams blocked a punt and Luketu got it into the end zone on two rushes behind his increasingly effective offensive line.
“The line showed out tonight, I couldn’t do it without any of them, that was all them,” said Luketu, who was credited with 165 yards on 16 carries. “Every run there was always green, I never had to great creative. They just gave me a good enough hole to get some yards and I had to make the best out of that.”
Pierce’s score on Cherokee Trail’s opening drive of the fourth quarter gave the Cougars a little breathing room, but that lasted for just seconds as Oladipo took back the ensuing kickoff to the end zone from 98 yards away.
Another stop by the Eaglecrest defense pinned Cherokee Trail inside its own 10 yard-line and the Raptors took over with a short field after forcing a punt. Luketu gave Eaglecrest its first lead of the game with 4:55 remaining on a 3-yard touchdown run.
Lavigne drove the Cougars from their own 18 into Eaglecrest territory before he was picked off by Robinson on a throw across the middle.
The Raptors could have just taken time off the clock, but Luketu burst through the line on a 78-yard run that got them to the 4 yard-line. Neo Abney essentially sealed the game with a short touchdown run inside the final two minutes.
“I’ve never been in a game that had that many points scored,” Marsh said, looking up at the scoreboard. “The kids did outstanding, but the coaching staff also did a good job of adjusting and stopping what was hurting us.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
EAGLECREST 62, CHEROKEE TRAIL 50
Score by quarters:
Cher. Trail 22 21 0 7 — 50
Eaglecrest 13 14 14 21 — 62
Cherokee Trail — Gabe Walker fumble recovery (Noah Fischbach kick), 10:21
Eaglecrest — Khalil Howard 3 yard run (JJ Farbes kick), 5:37
Cherokee Trail — Nate Gaye Jr. 14 yard run (Fischbach kick), 2:30
Eaglecrest — Seyi Oladipo 99 yard kickoff return (Farbes kick), 2:14
Cherokee Trail — Jack Pierce 94 yard run (Jack Love run), 1:26
Eaglecrest — JP Luketu 18 yard run (Farbes kick), 11:35
Cherokee Trail — Pierce 8 yard pass from Jayden Lavigne (Fischback kick), 7:44
Eaglecrest — Ty Robinson 55 yard pass from Howard (Farbes kick), 7:32
Cherokee Trail — Nate Burke 30 yard pass from Lavigne (Fischbach kick), 6:08
Cherokee Trail — Gaye Jr. 44 yard run (Fischbach kick), 1:18
Eaglecrest — Robinson 5 yard pass from Howard (Oladipo pass from Howard), 4:50
Eaglecrest — Luketu 1 yard run (run failed), 3.4
Cherokee Trail — Pierce 11 yard run (Fischbach kick), 10:26
Eaglecrest — Oladipo 98 yard kickoff return (Farbes kick), 10:20
Eaglecrest — Luketu 3 yard run (Luketu run), 4:55
Eaglecrest — Neo Abney 4 yard run (pass failed), 1:59
Eaglecrest: Khalil Howard 23-32, 219 yards, 2 touchdowns
Eaglecrest: JP Luketu 16-165, 3 touchdowns; Howard 9-67, 1 touchdown; Neo Abney 3-19, 1 touchdown
Eaglecrest: Langston Williams 10-100; Ty Robinson 3-58, 2 touchdowns; Seyi Oladipo 4-29; Luketu 1-17; Diego Cearns 3-14; Abney 2-1