AURORA | In a postseason football slugfest between double-digit seeds — a rarity this late in the Class 5A state playoffs — Jake Jones and Chatfield landed the last blows that produced victory Friday night at Legacy Stadium.
Jones and Grandview’s Liam Szarka waged a battle of elite Colorado senior quarterbacks and both delivered as they were part of all nine touchdowns scored in a game filled with big plays and monumental moments.
Jones delivered the last big play in the fourth quarter as he rushed for a 58-yard touchdown with just 3 minutes, 29 seconds, left in regulation for his second rushing touchdown to go with three passing scores to lift 14th-seeded Chatfield over No. 11 Grandview 38-27.
“We just didn’t have enough at the end,” Wolves coach Tom Doherty said. “We fought and fought and fought and I’m proud, but we just didn’t have enough at the end. Proud of our kids and the fight we put up, but at the end of the day they were better than us today.
“To be part of the elite eight is a big deal,” he added. “There are four really good teams going home tonight and we’re one of them. It hurts, but I think we made everybody proud.”
With a third straight victory over a Centennial League team in the postseason (No. 19 Cherokee Trail in the first round and No. 3 Arapahoe in the second round), the Chargers (8-5) advanced to a semifinal matchup against No. 2 Columbine. The other semifinal pits No. 5 Ralston Valley against No. 1 Cherry Creek.
— Updated Class 5A state football playoff scoreboard & schedule, here
Grandview — make its third straight trip to the quarterfinals — finished the season with an 8-5 overall record despite another outstanding game from Szarka, an Air Force commitment who rushed for a touchdown and threw for three others (two to junior Xay Neto and another to junior Kyler Vaughn).
Chatfield had things going early, as it scored touchdowns on its first three offensive possessions, the first one aided by a short field when Grandview had to punt from deep in its own end. Jones threw touchdown passes to Brock Narva late in the first quarter and again in the late stages of the second quarter as the Chargers pushed in front 21-8.
But Grandview responded as it has all season and did so in quick fashion, when Szarka dropped a perfect pass in to Neto, who shook off a tackler after he made a catch for a 57-yard touchdown that brought the Wolves within six points at the break.
The third quarter turned into a battle of field position for the most part until late in the quarter, when Chatfield pinned Grandview deep and benefited with a safety when Szarka was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. The Chargers made it a nine-point possession essentially when Jones broke free for a 58-yard touchdown and a 30-15 edge.
Again, the Wolves refused to allow the game to get away.
On the ensuing possession, a roughing the passer penalty gave Grandview an untimed down from the 10 yard-line and it cashed in when Neto made an acrobatic catch on a high ball from Szarka near the front of the end zone.
That was followed by an 80-yard bomb from Szarka to Vaughn, who juggled the ball before securing it near midfield, then managed to beat defenders to the end zone despite a nagging leg injury. A failed two-point conversion left it a 30-28 game in favor of Chatfield, which would get the ultimate knockout blow a short time later.
Jones — who has two rushing touchdowns in all three of the Chargers’ playoff games — used the shelter of his massive offensive line to find some open space, sprinted diagonally through midfield and made it inside the far pylon to make it a nine-point game.
Grandview’s last possession ended when Neto made a catch near midfield, but had the ball dislodged by a swarm of Chatfield defenders.
“It was a well-fought game and I’m happy that my teammates fought,” Neto said. “The seniors played their tails off, we just made some mistakes and had execution problems that cost us today. We just have to come come back from this better next year.”
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at email@example.com.Twitter/X: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2023 CLASS 5A STATE FOOTBALL QUARTERFINALS
Nov. 17 at Legacy Stadium
(14) CHATFIELD 37, (11) GRANDVIEW 28
Score by quarters:
Chatfield 14 7 9 7 — 37
Grandview 8 7 7 6 — 28
Chatfield — Jude Smith 5 yard pass from Jake Jones (Anthony Astone kick), 6:26
Grandview — Liam Szarka 26 yard run (Szarka run), 4:00
Chatfield — Brock Narva 28 yard pass from Jones (Astone kick), 0:24
Chatfield — Narva 11 yard pass from Jones (Astone kick), 2:34
Grandview — Xay Neto 57 yard pass from Szarka (Kyle Chavez kick), 1:48
Chatfield — Safety, intentional ground in end zone, 2:54
Chatfield — Jones 58 yard run (Astone kick), 2:33
Grandview — Neto 10 yard pass from Szarka (Chavez kick), 0:00
Grandview — Kyler Vaughn 80 yard pass from Szarka (pass failed), 5:59
Chatfield — Jones 58 yard run (Astone kick), 3:29