AURORA | Only one team was up to the challenge of beating the Regis Jesuit football team in 2014.
Cherry Creek managed to accomplish the feat twice, both times on the Raiders’ home field. The season ended for Regis Jesuit Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A state football playoffs the same way it started on a Friday night in August, with a loss to the Bruins.
The top seed in Quadrant 4 of the 5A bracket, Cherry Creek took advantage of three consecutive turnovers by second-seeded Regis Jesuit in the second quarter and converted all of them into touchdowns in a four-minute span before halftime, which put the Bruins well on their way to a 49-21 victory over the Raiders on the frozen turf at Lou Kellogg Stadium.
“Give Creek all the credit; they didn’t make mistakes and they outexecuted us and when you do that, you win,” said Regis Jesuit assistant coach Bob McPhee, whose team fell short in its quest to make the semifinals for the first time since 2010 and finished 10-2 overall, with its two losses to Cherry Creek bookending a 10-game winning streak.
“They came out and did what they were supposed to do and they deserve to move on,” he added.
Cherry Creek (9-3) advanced to the 5A semifinals for the first time since 2008, where coach Dave Logan’s team will meet another top-seed in Ralston Valley, which won Quadrant 3 with a 71-29 rout of No. 2 Fairview.
The semifinals are rounded out by two more Centennial League teams, as defending 5A state champion Valor Christian — which downed Pomona — faces a Grandview team that took down Fountain-Fort Carson.
Things looked bright at the start for Regis Jesuit, however, as it took the opening kickoff and proceeded to march 80 yards for the opening score of the game. Leaning heavily on junior running back Alec Barnes, who had nine touches on 15 plays, the Raiders scored first when senior quarterback Matt Houghtaling connected with tight end Jack Stoll from six yards out.
“That was a good way to set the tone, but we came out the second drive and didn’t do what we wanted to do and lost the momentum until right before halftime,” said Houghtaling, who finished 10-of-24 for 94 yards. “It came down to whatever team made the least mistakes tonight and that was Creek. Take nothing away from them, but this wasn’t our best game tonight.”
After the Bruins responded with a 76-yard drive of their own to tie the game on DJ Luke’s 2-yard touchdown run, mistakes basically determined the outcome of the game in the second quarter.
Three consecutive Regis Jesuit turnovers helped Cherry Creek’s lead balloon to 28-7, as the Bruins cashed in a fumble by Barnes at the end of a long screen pass, a fumbled exchange between the center and Houghtaling and Emmanuel Dejesus’ fumble on a kickoff return. Luke and Milo Hall rushed for scores and Cherry Creek popped a trick play when Tyus Carter hit Joseph Parker with a 33-yard touchdown on a double pass.
Regis Jesuit cut the deficit to 28-14 just before halftime when Barnes crashed into the end zone from 3 yards out and the Raiders defense forced a three-and-0ut from Cherry Creek on the opening series of the second half.
But Regis Jesuit couldn’t capitalize on the momentum and the Bruins put the game away with touchdowns by Hall and a tackle-breaking 48-yard touchdown catch by Carter after a short pass from Joe Caplis.
“Our joke at halftime was ‘we’ve got them right where we want them,'” McPhee said. “Our defensive kids get a stop to start, but then we didn’t make plays on offense. If we convert there, maybe its 28-21 and it’s a different ballgame, but give Creek credit for what they did.”
Luke rushed for his third touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter to give Cherry Cherry a 49-14 lead before Gabe Holt-Jones followed up a long Chris Ramos run with a touchdown for Regis Jesuit to make it 49-21 in the closing minutes.
It was a disappointing end to a season with high expectations for star offensive lineman Tim Lynott and the Raiders.
“I’m pretty upset, I thought we had a good season going and a chance at state,” said Lynott, who will sign with the University of Colorado. “It ended here, but I’m so happy I got to play with these guys. I’m glad I can go on to the next level and continue my career. I wish the best for my now ex-teammates. They’ll always be my brothers.”
Added Houghtaling: “After losing the first game, then win 10 in a row, you can’t ask for a lot more. We’re not lowering our heads or anything, it was a good season.”
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
(1) CHERRY CREEK 49, (2) REGIS JESUIT 21
Score by quarters:
Cherry Creek 7 21 14 7 — 49
Regis Jesuit 7 7 0 7 — 21
Regis Jesuit — Jack Stoll 6 yard pass from Matt Houghtaling (Daniel Naes kick), 5:57
Cherry Creek — DJ Luke 2 yard run (Henry Lyon kick), 0:28
Cherry Creek — Luke 4 yard run (Lyon kick), 7:24
Cherry Creek — Joseph Parker 33 yard pass from Tyus Carter (Lyon kick), 4:56
Cherry Creek — Milo Hall 15 yard run (Lyon kick), 4:05
Regis Jesuit — Alec Barnes 3 yard run (Naes kick), 0:19
Cherry Creek — Hall 4 yard run (Lyon kick), 7:28
Cherry Creek — Carter 48 yard pass from Joe Caplis (Lyon kick), 1:24
Cherry Creek — Luke 5 yard run (Lyon kick), 7:19
Regis Jesuit — Gabe Holt-Jones 8 yard run (Naes kick), 2:08