Pomona’s Ian Dexter (21) breaks heads upfield as Eaglecrest defenders Seyi Oladipo (4) and others pursue him during the second half of a Class 5A state football quarterfinal played on Nov. 20, 2020, at Valor Christian High School. The fourth-seeded Panthers pulled away in the second half for a 49-19 win over fifth-seeded Raptors, who finished the season 4-2. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

HIGHLANDS RANCH | Through a quarter and a half of Friday night’s Class 5A state quarterfinal contest, the Eaglecrest football team held a lead and looked settled in to slug it out with Pomona for a spot in the semifinals.

The fourth-seeded Panthers kept landing haymakers with their ground game, however, and ended up running away with the game as they scored 35 straight points on their way handing the fifth-seeded Raptors a 49-19 defeat at Valor Christian High School.

Pomona — which got six rushing touchdowns from five different players and piled up 412 yards rushing — advanced to the 5A state semifinals to face top-seeded Cherry Creek, which held off No. 8 Regis Jesuit 29-6. Coach Shawn Marsh’s Eaglecrest team, meanwhile, had its season ended at 4-2 overall after missing the penultimate week of the regular season due to quarantine.

Senior quarterback Khalil Howard threw two touchdown passes to senior Seyi Oladipo for Eaglecrest, the first of which gave the Raptors a 13-7 lead in the second quarter. By the  time the duo connected for a second time, however, the deficit was 29 points.

In the two programs’ first postseason meeting since they played in the 2017 5A state championship (won by the Panthers in a shootout at Empower Field at Mile High), Eaglecrest struck first when senior Neo Abney plunged into the end zone. Pomona answered a few minutes later, however, as Dominick Nichols scored the first of his three touchdowns on a short run.

Nichols would score again on a reception from Jack Pospisil — one of only two pass completions in the game for Pomona — in the final minute of the first half to give the Panthers a lead they wouldn’t lose and he subsequently intercepted a Howard pass intended for Langston Williams to end Eaglecrest’s bid for some late points in the half.

Pospisil, Nichols and AJ Zamora each got into the end zone as the Panthers scored on their first three possessions of the second half to build a lead as large as 42-13.

Eaglecrest turned the ball over on downs in the red zone in the third quarter, but finally scored again with 6:13 remaining when Howard found Oladipo for a 10-yard touchdown.

That momentum lasted less than a minute a half when Ian Dexter broke off a big run and followed it up with a touchdown run to make the final margin 30.

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

(4) POMONA 49, (5) EAGLECREST 19

Score by quarters:

Eaglecrest  7   6    0    6 — 19

Pomona     7  14  14  14 — 49


First quarter

Eaglecrest — Neo Abney 1 yard run (JJ Farbes kick), 6:49

Pomona — Dominick Nichols 4 yard run (Joevannie Rosales kick), 1:48

Second quarter

Eaglecrest — Seyi Oladipo 39 yard pass from Khalil Howard (kick failed)

Pomona — Ben Cruz 8 yard run (Rosales kick), 7:39

Pomona — Nichols 27 yard pass from Jack Pospisil (Rosales kick), 0:54

Third quarter

Pomona — Pospisil 1 yard run (Rosales kick), 9:14

Pomona — Nichols 20 yard run (Rosales kick), 4:09

Fourth quarter

Pomona — AJ Zamora 5 yard run (Rosales kick), 9:21

Eaglecrest — Oladipo 10 yard pass from Howard (run failed), 6:13

Pomona — Ian Dexter 5 yard run (Rosales kick), 4:41