ERIE — The last time Erie and Broomfield met on a football field, the Eagles left the Tigers heartbroken when a Blake Barnett fumble on the 1-yard line kept his team out of the Class 4A state championship game.
Barnett, Erie’s star senior quarterback, doesn’t forget things like that, and he let that fire fuel him and his boys en route to a 30-7 victory on their home turf on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
“Obviously, I think about it and I have to drive that, use that as fire. I’ve looked at that photograph, that play, I think, every single day since that game,” Barnett said. “Hey, man. They want to talk all summer. They want to go on 9News, (BoCo)Preps. They want to do everything and talk about how they want to play us and then they played that? 30-7? Oh my gosh, this game’s so sweet!”
Barnett certainly laid it all out on the field, as he took snap after snap and exited the field on several occasions, clearly in pain. But nothing was stopping this man from his comeback story. He finished his day throwing for 158 yards and running for 84 more as he played a part in all four touchdowns that lit up the scoreboard.
“There was no piece of me that was going to lose this game. They lost when they walked on the field,” he exclaimed. “You don’t understand how sweet that is, being able to lose in that state semifinal and then coming back, whooping some butt. Man, it’s awesome.”
The Tigers stymied the Eagles in nearly every facet of the game, as penalties and mental miscues marred both teams’ progression. Still, Erie played like Class 4A’s second-best — if not the best — squad, as laid out in this week’s Colorado Preps Select Media Poll. Broomfield, likewise, entered the game ranked No. 4.
Broomfield’s junior quarterback CT Worley led its passing game with 60 yards through the first half, but had to sit in the second half due to injury precaution. Fellow junior Darien Jackson stepped in to throw for 45 more, as junior running back Joseph Larsen and Worley led the run game with 70 and 69 yards, respectively.
After a little bit of defensive back-and-forth to start out the game, the Eagles struck first with a 10-yard run from Worley in the opening seconds of the second quarter. The Tigers wasted no time responding with their own short run from Barnett, but they ensured they would take the 8-7 lead with a two-point conversion.
They didn’t look back after that.
“The thing I’m most proud about these guys is that our leadership has just been excellent this year,” Erie head coach Jeff Geiger said. “They’re really doing a good job and playing for each other and stepping up when we need to step up.”
Barnett dotted the exclamation point on his own stat sheet with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Josh Levine midway through the second quarter, allowing his team to take a 15-8 lead as the clock read 4:58.
The Eagles ended the half well on the hunt for their second score, but bad clock management left them hanging with a fourth-and-5 from the 5-yard line when time ran out.
“You can’t make mistakes, can’t have mental mistakes,” Broomfield head coach Robert O’Brien said. “That’s the biggest thing for us, is making sure that we play clean and play to our game. It was a big game and it meant a lot to both teams. We just didn’t make the big plays where we needed to. I felt like we drove the ball well. We got into the red zone and we just struggled to get into the end zone.”
The Blake Barnett show steamrolled on into the second half, scoring twice more on short runs to book-end the beginning and end of the fourth quarter. The Tigers, now 3-1, have yet to lose to a Colorado team. They began their season with a 26-20 heartbreaker at the hands of Florida’s Vanguard.
Broomfield, on the other hand, dropped to 2-2 after suffering an earlier loss to Holy Family by way of a last-second upset. Larsen believes his Eagles are just on the cusp of counting themselves among 4A’s elite teams.
“I don’t think they took the wind out of our sails, really,” Larsen said. “We just made mistakes this week and we’ll keep working. We’ll keep working our (butts) off and get to the point where we want to be. … I think we’re really close to their levels. I think we’re just as good as both of them. Those mistakes hurt us.”