LAKEWOOD — During the 54-mile trek to Jeffco Stadium some of the Palmer Ridge football players might have been dreaming about starting their season 5-0 before kicking off against Lakewood on Sept. …
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LAKEWOOD — During the 54-mile trek to Jeffco Stadium some of the Palmer Ridge football players might have been dreaming about starting their season 5-0 before kicking off against Lakewood on Sept. 24.
“We were all super excited on the bus ride here. We wanted to get our minds right,” Palmer Ridge senior Ayden Snow said. “It was a long ride. A lot of us were napping.”
The No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A actually got caught sleeping early before Snow sparked the Bears to a 35-7 non-league victory over the 5A Jeffco squad.
Lakewood did an impressive job of playing keep-away from Palmer Ridge’s explosive offense for the majority of the first half. The Tigers actually took a 7-0 lead in the first half thanks to a 14-play, 72-yard touchdown drive that ate up 8:12 on the clock.
Senior receiver Santino Lopez capped off the scoring drive with a remarkable one-handed catch thrown by senior quarterback Max Schadler. The 12-yard touchdown pass was actually tipped by senior teammate Gannon Hazelwood before Lopez could snag it for the Tigers’ lone touchdown of the first half.
The touchdown was on the final play of the first quarter to give Lakewood a 7-0 lead.
“We tried to shorten the game a little bit. They just have too much speed. We can’t match that speed,” Lakewood coach Jeff Braun said. “We tried to keep the ball away from them, but we missed two field goals and shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times. It kind of got away from us.”
Palmer Ridge’s offense came alive late in the second quarter thanks to Snow.
After a failed field goal attempt by the Tigers, Snow came in and took a direct snap from Palmer Ridge’s own 41-yard line. Snow raced untouched for a 59-yard touchdown with 5:03 left in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7.
“It was awesome. I just followed my blockers,” Snow said of his 59-yard touchdown run. “I don’t think I got touched that play. I just followed Connor Cook, put my hand on his back and once I saw the seam I took off.”
Snow struck again with a 54-yard touchdown catch from sophomore quarterback Derek Hester with under 2 minutes to play before halftime to give the Bears their first lead of the game.
Palmer Ridge extended its lead to 21-7 on the first drive of the second half. Hester connected with senior Anthony Costanzo for a 28-yard touchdown with 8:15 left in the third quarter. Costanzo juked a defender at about the 10-yard line then ran through a tackle to get into the end zone for his fifth receiving touchdown on the season.
The Bears continued to pour it on in the third quarter.Cook scored on a 28-yard touchdown run just minutes after Costanzo’s score to push the lead to 28-7 midway through the third quarter.
Snow put the icing on the cake with an 84-yard touchdown catch with 5:10 left in the fourth quarter to make the final score 35-7. The senior receiver is averaging more than 30 yards every time he touches the ball through the first five games.
“They were playing press coverage on my and coach called vert,” Snow said of his longest play from scrimmage this season. “Derek just put it right there. I just had to run under it.”
The loss ended a three-game winning streak the Tigers (3-2 record) were on. Lakewood lost its opener Bear Creek, but rebounded with wins over Westminster, Rocky Mountain and Chaparral.
The Tigers will now try to shake off the loss against the top-ranked squad in 4A before Lakewood’s 5A Jeffco League opener next week. Lakewood travels to the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada to face Pomona on Thursday, Sept. 30.
“We’ll come back to work on Monday and see what we have coming back,” Braun said. “I’ve got a lot of kids injured, but we’ll go back to work and see what happens.”
Palmer Ridge (5-0) will have a good test to open play in the 4A Southern 1 League. The Bears host No. 5 Montrose (5-0) next Friday night.
“It’s exciting because it’s our homecoming game,” Snow said of the showdown against Montrose next Friday. “I know the stands are going to be packed. We’ll study hard this weekend and have practice at 9 a.m. tomorrow to start preparing for them.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com
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