Windsor defense produces game-seizing plays to upset Denver South in 4A football quarterfinals
November 19, 2016
DENVER — Even hobbled a little bit for the last 20 yards of a 50-yard run, nothing was going to stop Windsor junior Brandon Ramirez from trudging into the end zone.
Nothing was going to stop the eighth-seeded Wizards from earning an upset win against unbeaten, top-seeded Denver South in the Class 4A Football Championships' quarterfinals Saturday at All-City Stadium.
In general, nothing was going to stop Windsor … period.
The defending 4A champion Wizards broke a couple big plays on offense and came up with countless pivotal, highlight-reel plays on defense to stun the Rebels 42-21 and move on to the semifinals next week, on the road against No. 5 Broomfield.
"The pregame message was: Play like a champion," Windsor coach Skylar Brower said. "This group knows what that means, stepping up to that next level, playing championship playoff football. We couldn't care less about 11-0 and them being the No. 1 seed."
The Wizards (9-3) ended the Rebels' quest for an unbeaten season and their first title since 1958.
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Ramirez's run — in which he suffered what appeared to be a pulled hamstring while completing the run — put Windsor up 28-14 with 11 minutes, 48 seconds left in the game.
It was one of only three Wizards' offensive plays of more than 7 yards against a Denver South team that hadn't given up a point in five previous games, dating back to Oct. 8.
However, while Windsor's offense was called on only when needed, its defense never stopped making game-seizing plays.
"I don't think we've made that many big plays in awhile … since I've been here," Wizards senior linebacker Corte Tapia said. "But, we really had a good game plan going in and really put it into work."
Windsor picked off Rebels sophomore quarterback Amon Wright five times — including a pair returned for touchdowns by seniors Andy Evans and Peyton Huston in the team's 21-point fourth quarter.
They also recovered a fumbled punt that set up the Wizards' first points, a physical 7-yard touchdown run by Tapia to put Windsor up 7-0 with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
Senior cornerback Jake Hammond had an interception to go with his fumble recovery on a Denver South field goal attempt, which Hammond returned 80 yards for a touchdown. The huge scoop-and-score tied the game at 14 with 5:32 left in the second and stymied some early momentum Denver South had built on its home field.
"No matter who we play, we always believe that we can beat anyone we play," Hammond said. "The coaches gave us confidence, and we came out here and just played our (butts) off. I'm so proud of this team."
On the first play of the second half, Wizards senior quarterback Brad Peeples pulled back a fake handoff and scurried along the right sideline 65 yards for a touchdown to put Windsor up 21-14. The Rebels never recovered and never led again, as the Wizards' defense completely took over.
As crucial as Windsor's takeaways were, its less-heralded defensive plays were just as important. The Wizards held the potent Denver South senior rushing duo of Marcus Lindsay (145 yard average) and Derius Pinkett (60 yard average) to just 44 and 24 yards, respectively, in the second half.
"We knew that we were going to be better than (the Rebels); they really hadn't faced anybody like us,"Windsor senior lineman Storm Fox said. "We just went out and showed them what they were facing."
Best individual performance
This honor goes, collectively, to the Wizards' defense, which produced six takeaways — three of which resulted directly in Windsor touchdowns and one other gave the Wizards a short field for their first points.
Though Hammond's fumble recovery and 80-yard touchdown return in the second quarter put the ice on the Rebels' red-hot offense, Peeples' big TD run to open the second half gave Windsor the lead, and the momentum, for good.
What it means
While Denver South ends its season in disappointing fashion, the Wizards move on to a semifinals game on the road against Broomfield (10-2).
In addition to wanting to punch its ticket to its second straight title game, Windsor will also look for revenge. The Eagles beat the Wizards 37-25 in Week 3 on Sept. 16 in Broomfield.
WHS 7 7 7 21 — 42
DSHS 14 0 0 7 — 21
WHS — Corte Tapia 7 run (Julia Broghammer kick) 5:23. Drive: 5 plays, 26 yards, 2:03; Windsor 7, Denver South 0.
DSHS — Marcus Lindsay 23 run (Zach Cheiko kick) 3:50. Drive: 5 plays, 63 yards, 1:26. Denver South 7, Windsor 7.
DSHS — Quinton Johnson 2 run (Cheiko kick) :14.6. Drive: 4 plays, 84 yards, 1:26. Denver South 14, Windsor 7.
WHS — Jake Hammond 80 fumble ret. (Broghammer kick) 5:32. Windsor 14, Denver South 14.
WHS — Brad Peeples 65 run (Broghammer kick) 11:38. Drive: 1 play, 65 yards, :16. Windsor 21, Denver South 14.
WHS — Brandon Ramirez 50 run (Broghammer kick) 11:48. Drive: 10 plays, 97 yards, 5:30. Windsor 28, Denver South 14.
WHS — Andy Evans 62 Int. ret. (Broghammer kick) 7:25. Windsor 35, Denver South 14.
DSCHS — Dashawn Griffin 47 pass from Amon Wright (Cheiko kick) 6:17. Windsor 35, Denver South 21.
WHS — Peyton Huston 25 Int. ret. (Broghammer kick) 3:41. Windsor 42, Denver South 21.
First downs 7 18
Rushes-yards 37-187 33-208
Passing 0 112
Comp-Att-Int 0-1-1 11-23-5
Sacked-yards lost 2-10 0-0
Punts-Avg. 5-37.8 37-3
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 7-80 12-97
Rushing — WHS, Brandon Ramirez 12-90 (TD); Brad Peeples 11-59 (TD). DSHS, Marcus Lindsay 7-145 (TD); Derius Pinkett11-60.
Passing — WHS, Connor Apodaca 0-1-1-0. DSHS, Among Wright 11-23-5-112 (TD).
Receiving — WHS, none. DSHS, Dashawn Griffin 1-47 (TD); Esaias Gandy 2-36.