DENVER — It will go down as the biggest touchdown pass in the history of Chatfield football.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Jones connected with sophomore tight end Drew Rohlman for a 32-yard touchdown with 11 seconds remaining in the Class 4A state championship game against Erie on Saturday afternoon at Empower Field at Mile High.
The final touchdown wrapped up a dramatic 41-34 victory to conclude a remarkable season for the Chargers in winning the school’s first state football title in 20 years.
“I just knew my job. Thanks to my offensive line to give me the time to make that throw to Drew,” said Jones, who completed the Chargers’ only two passes of the game on the 7-play, 80-yard scoring drive in the final 2 minutes of the game. “I took my three-step drop and I figured the outside shoulder was a better shot. I threw it up to give it a chance.”
It was just the 11th catch of the season and fourth receiving touchdown of the season for Rohlman.
“I knew I was going to have a shot to make a play right there,” Rohlman said of the eventual game-winning touchdown catch. “I love that kid Jake Jones. He put that ball in the perfect spot. I just made a play on it.”
Erie had scored back-to-back touchdowns in less than four minutes to tie the game at 34-34 with 1:54 left to play. The Chargers (11-3 record) took over on its own 20-yard line. Senior Jake Marschall had a huge 11-yard run on a third-down play to keep the drive alive.
Jones, junior Mason Lowe and freshman Brock Narva connected with a 23-yard gain on a hook-and-ladder throw with 30 seconds left on the clock to get Chatfield across midfield. Lowe had a big 12 yard run to get the Chargers to the 30-yard line to get Chatfield in range for the scoring strike.
“We had been practicing that in practice all the time,” Lowe said of the hook-and-ladder. “We just had to execute it and it worked. It was great.”
Chatfield coach Bret McGatlin admitted he was just hoping to get into field-goal range on the Chargers’ final drive. He went back to a pass play that the Chargers had run in the first half, but Jone got pressured and couldn’t get the pass away in time.
“We ran it early in the game and it was wide-open,” McGatlin said. “This time they covered Marschall and our tight end (Rohlman) got a step on his defender.”
Erie (13-1) got the ball back with only seconds left. The Tigers got the ball to midfield, but the clock ran out before Erie could get a legitimate shot at the end zone.
“It was crazy. What an incredible season,” said Lowe, who missed a part of the season with a broken bone in his foot. “We won all this games coming back. We have such a brotherhood on this team. We love every single one of these people.”
Erie took an early 13-0 lead, but Chatfield answered with a 28-point second quarter to grab a 28-20 lead at halftime. Junior Sam Ayres and Marschall both had a pair of touchdown runs before half.
Narva had a huge defensive play in the third quarter for the Chargers. He had a tackle on Erie sophomore quarterback Blake Barnett on a 4-and-1 play from Chatfield’s 11-yard line.
“We had a speech in the locker room that we weren’t going to break,” Lowe said of the Chargers giving up 34 points defensively, but also forcing turnovers.
Chatfield turned around and had a 14-play, 89-yard scoring drive capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run by Narva to give the Chargers a 34-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“The future is still bright. We have a lot of young kids on this team,” McGatlin said of the likes of Lowe, Jones, Rohlman and Narva that all came up big in the title game. “We are going to miss Marschall with his leadership. I am excited about the future. We are going to have to be good moving up to 5A.”
Marschall finished with 27 carries for 151 yards on the ground in his final game for the Chargers. The senior finished with just under 2,000 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns.
“There is no way I can really convey to people the feeling,” Marschall said. “I love my brothers. That is why we won. The unconditional love we have for each other. We got the state championship for our school. This is awesome.”
It was the first time Chatfield or Erie had ever played for a 4A state football title. The Chargers actually won the 5A championship back in 2001 under then coach Dave Logan. Erie was in the 3A title game in 2017, losing to Palmer Ridge.
Chatfield had three regular-season losses on the season. Pine Creek, Bear Creek and Dakota Ridge all defeated the Chargers. However, Chatfield got revenge with playoff wins over Dakota Ridge (quarterfinals) and Pine Creek (semifinals) to advance to the title game.
“It was an incredible dream. I’m glad it turned into reality,” Lowe said. “I can’t wait to party with these guys. It’s going to be so fun.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.