Ponderosa Pounds Overland for First State Title

Aurora- Ponderosa head coach <b>Jamie Woodruff</b> has been a coach at Ponderosa for 20 years. For 20 years he has searched for the holy grail of coaching, the mythical state championship. Saturday afternoon, the Mustangs got just that. RB <b>Thomas Lawson</b> once again carried the Mustangs rushing the ball 30 times for 160 yards and one touchdown.

Overland and Ponderosa played the 5A state title game on Overland's home field the Stutler Bowl, before a crowd of 8,000. The crowd was loud and rowdy, both sides full of students cheering for their team.

Ponderosa started the game off with a 16 play, 80 yard drive, which took eight minutes off the clock and was indicative of the rest of the day. Lawson would shoulder much of this first drive carrying 10 times for 50 yards and the ensuing touchdown.

"The team came to play today," said Lawson. A transfer from Rampart, Lawson was a question mark on a team that went 10-0 before being upset by Arvada West in the first round of the playoffs last year. "This has always been a dream of mine to play for state and coming to Ponderosa made that happen. We just came out on top. We beat them in the front and won a tough game."

What was even more impressive than Lawson's effort was that of the Mustang offensive line and their team leader OT Nick Alletto. A recent commit to BYU, Alletto was a one man wrecking crew. All day Alletto was blowing his man off the ball. In of the more odd matchups of the playoffs, Overland played 5'10 175lbs DE Jeff Peevey heads up on Alletto?

Nick had this to say after the game, "They had some studs up front and we knew their linebackers could run. We just did our job and won the game. We were very nervous at halftime because they had come back in all of their playoff games and we knew it was going to be a battle. We just played our game and won."

Overland would punt on its first three possessions and throw four straight incompletions heading into halftime. Ponderosa's Paul Floistad would add a 23 yard field goal three minutes into the 2nd quarter, giving Ponderosa a 10-0 halftime lead.

As Alletto had eluded to after the game, Overland had come back after being down in all of their games and Ponderosa was aware of this.

The most telling stat of the half and the game was the rushing yardage. Both teams lived and died with the smash mouth style but at the half the rushing yards were 125 Ponderosa to 38 Overland. Coming off a 300 yard performance against Arvada West, Overland was really off track.

Overland came out in the second half fired up and drove to the Ponderosa 29 before RB Myles Hays' fumble was recovered on their own 29 yard line. After an 11 yard run by Lawson, SB Cody Meuli caught a QB Grant Stucker pass 15 yards down failed and turned it into a 60 yard touchdown.

As if that wasn't enough, the ensuing kickoff would hit Hays in the facemask and was recovered by Ponderosa's Kody Green on the 29 yard line. Overland would hold but that play was indicative of the day had and would go for Overland.

Overland would answer on 3rd down as QB Thomas Littleton would hit Hays for 52 yard touchdown pass. Overland missed the extra point and 17-6 was as close as the score would get.

Ponderosa would answer the bell once again. Returning the ensuing kick to the 50 yard line, the Mustangs would march the other 50 on the ground in 8 plays. Meuli scored again on a 4 yard run, putting away the ‘blazers for good 24-6.

Just as it seemed Overland was going to score and gain some momentum, Littleton would throw an interception by DB Cody Shoultz to start the fourth quarter and Ponderosa just couldn't stop. Taking another 5 minutes off the clock, Lawson and co. went 81 yards on 11 plays capped by an 11 yard pass from Stucker to SB Kaylon Ross. It was now 30-6.

Overland would add a late score when Littleton hit WR Pat Mattis for a 10 yard touchdown. The final score was 30-12.

Ponderosa head coach Jamie Woodruff was elated after the game. "It was important to get up early. We stopped the run which surprised us and they had to pass which isn't their game. We knew they had come back so 10 (points) wasn't enough. Our kids really played hard today and I am proud of them. We finally got it done."

Ponderosa had been to the playoffs 9 of the last 11 years including twice undefeated. This was a nice surprise in a parity filled schoolboy season.

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