WESTMINSTER - No Patrick Wilson, no problem for the Westminster football team. The Wolves rallied to score 24 unanswered points to beat Northglenn …
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WESTMINSTER - No Patrick Wilson, no problem for the Westminster football team.
The Wolves rallied to score 24 unanswered points to beat Northglenn 38-35 Friday night and secured their spot in the Class 5A state playoffs.
Up next is the tough task of facing top-seeded ThunderRidge in the opening round, but the Wolves aren’t counting themselves out of the playoffs.
“I just want to get a playoff win,” said Ryan Belearde, who rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns. “As a junior I’m hoping to do whatever I can to help my team get a playoff win.”
It won’t help that the Wolves will be without Wilson, who is sidelined with a broken ankle. Wilson had rushed for 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns to lead the Wolves before the injury. However, Belearde has proven he is more than capable of stepping into Wilson’s shoes.
He broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown score on the opening drive and scored the Wolves final two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Racing 28 yards for a touchdown and then scoring the game-winning touchdown after getting outside and scampering 32 yards for the score.
“I thought I was going to get caught honestly,” he said. “You never want to get caught in that situation and so I gave it my all.”
Westminster (5-4 overall, 3-2 East Metro League) also got some assistance late in the third quarter when Northglenn’s senior quarterback Jordan Radebaugh was injured and wasn’t able to return. Before the injury, Northglenn’s high-powered offense scored 35 consecutive points and was practically unstoppable.
Radebaugh scored on back-to-back runs in the first half and then he found Eddie Franco on a 19-yard pass play to give the Norse a 21-14 at halftime.
Northglenn (2-7 overall, 2-3 EML) added to its lead in the second half when Jonah Radebaugh scored from 12 yards out to cap the opening drive of the second half.
An interception by Rocky Nava led to a 48-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Radebaugh to Franco to advance the lead to 35-14.
A fumble late in the third quarter gave the Wolves life and they capitalized. Quarterback Jordan Thompson found his favorite target, Humberto Loera, racing down Northglenn’s sidelines for a 48-yard score late in the third quarter to spark the rally.
“It was unbelievable,” Westminster coach Kerry Denison said. “The kids kept fighting and fighting, they believed in themselves.”
Jordan Radebaugh finished the game with 283 passing yards and two touchdowns; he also had 77 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Franco led Northglenn with six catches for 159 yards and two scores.
Nick Etchells had 56 rushing yards and a score for Westminster, while Thompson threw for 116 yards and one touchdown.
“These kids just step up when they need to,” Denison said. “Whatever role is asked of them, they will do it. I’m sure darn proud of them. Ryan Belearde has stepped up to the plate and Nick has done a good job filling in at fullback.”
ThunderRidge, which finished the regular season with an 8-1 record, will provide a much tougher challenge. The Grizzlies lone loss was the season-opener to California’s powerhouse Vista Murrieta. Since then, they have reeled off eight wins in a row and have been a force on both sides of the ball.
Running backs Steve Ray and Jake Hand have combined to score 27 touchdowns and Ray has rushed for over 100 yards in the past seven games. John Adams has nine sacks to anchor the Grizzlies defense.
“We’ll play whoever we have to play and we’ll play as hard as we can. That’s who we are,” Denison said.
Northglenn will play Fruita Monument on Friday in the non-qualifying teams’ pool.
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