PUEBLO | Time and time again this spring season, the Gateway football team had scratched and clawed back from all different kinds of adversity.
So it was easy to believe that the Olys would come through in the clutch when they took over the ball trailing by a point with two minutes left in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s Class 4A state championship game at the Netta & Eddie ThunderBowl.
But with senior quarterback Erick Covington hampered by a shoulder injury and the Thomas Jefferson defense flying around, the magic ran out for sixth-seeded Gateway, which was unable to score on the final drive and fell 28-27 to the top-seeded Spartans, who claimed their first state championship since 1989.
Covington injured his throwing shoulder late in the first half after leading coach Justin Clyatt’s Olys (5-4) to a 20-7 halftime lead as he threw long touchdown passes to senior Sh’marre Johnson and junior Gabe Broussard to make up for two early turnovers.
After Thomas Jefferson tied it up with a pair of methodical touchdown drives in the third quarter, Covington had enough in his legs to score a 17-yard go-ahead touchdown on a fourth down run midway through the fourth quarter.
That type of drive had stood out as the difference in a first round win over third-seeded George Washington and a semifinal victory over second-seeded Harrison in the past two weeks, but the Spartans struck back this time. Thomas Jefferson went 40 yards on 10 plays — which included a fourth-down pickup — for a touchdown, then gambled and took the lead when quarterback Austin Lindegren scored on a two-point try.
Gateway moved the ball near midfield, but had to use a down to spike the ball and stop the clock, then failed to convert on its final two plays.
The Olys played in the state championship game for the first time.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
(1) THOMAS JEFFERSON 28, (6) GATEWAY 27
Score by quarters:
Gateway 7 13 0 7 — 27
Th. Jefferson 7 0 13 8 — 28
Thomas Jefferson — Jaden Hill 5 yard interception return (Dimitri Haralambopoulos kick), 3:52
Gateway — Sh’marre Johnson 68 yard pass from Erick Covington (Ryan Claxton kick), 2:06
Gateway — Gabe Broussard 59 yard pass from Covington (Claxton kick), 10:05
Gateway — Johnson 43 yard run (kick blocked), 5:28
Thomas Jefferson — Hill 18 yard run (kick failed), 8:23
Thomas Jefferson — Austin Lindegren 11 yard run (Haralambopoulos kick), 1:18
Gateway — Covington 17 yard run (Claxton kick), 6:21
Thomas Jefferson — Hill 7 yard run (Lindegren run), 2:01