BOULDER — For a second time this season Pomona went toe-to-toe with the best.
In a game that featured multiple lead changes, the No. 8 Panthers could not get it changed back in their favor late and fell to No. 1 Fairview 35-24 in the 5A state playoff quarterfinals Friday at Recht Field.
Despite another monster effort from senior running back Chris Marquez, Pomona could not hold on to an early lead. Then, they could not hold off a late surge by Fairview and for the second time this season the Panthers were beaten by still undefeated Fairview.
Marquez ran the ball for 264 yards and three touchdowns, but all three of those touchdowns came in the first half.
The Panthers took a 21-7 lead early in the action and looked like they were rolling. However, Fairview tied the action early in the third quarter after Pomona junior quarterback Justin Roberts was stripped of the ball deep in the Panthers’ own territory — one of three Pomona turnovers of the night.
Four plays later Fairview’s Sam Martin ran the ball into the end zone converting what was one of his three touchdowns that night.
Still not out of it, even though Fairview scored 14 unanswered points, Pomona would miss a field goal and then make one giving them a 24-21 lead.
But Fairview would then prove themselves again as the best team in 5A football when they put together a machine-like five-minute drive late in the game that featured them going for it and converting on a 4th-and-1 near midfield.
Moments later Fairview quarterback Anders Hill hooked up with Martin for a 27-yard gain which set up the Knights their first lead since early in the first quarter.
Hill would then punch in Fairview’s final touchdown from eight yards out and just like in their regular season meeting the Knights narrowly found a way to escape Pomona and 2,000-plus yard rusher Marquez.
Pomona wraps up its season 9-3 with their losses coming to then undefeated Cherry Creek 19-15 early in the season. Its other loss came by Fairview in a game where the Knights beat the Panthers 33-30 in overtime on Oct. 18.
Fairview (11-0) stays perfect and will now face No. 5 ThunderRidge Friday at a time yet to be determined. The Knights are expected to beat ThunderRidge, which will set up a potential meeting with No. 2 Valor Christian for a state title.