Behind three touchdowns from running back Raef Ruel, Palmer Ridge successfully captured their second straight 3A football state title with a 47-38 win over Pueblo East.
“I’m still in shock that we won,” Ruel said after the game. “I just wanted to win for my team and the seniors and everybody.”
The Bears scored 20 points in a big third quarter to create separation between the Eagles in the title game.
Two defensive scores for the Bears – both Anthony Roberson and Aiden Cullen picked off Andrada and returned for touchdowns – were the big difference in the game.
“Those were big game changing plays for us,” said head coach Tom Pulford. “Momentum swayed out of our way again after that but those were huge plays for us and defense did a good job overall.”
Palmer Ridge held a 7-6 lead before the Eagles began to find their offensive rhythm in the second quarter. Luc Andrada connected with Medrano for his second of three touchdown catches in the game. He finished with 129 yards receiving to go along with the three scores. Andrada was 17/36 for 278 yards in the air but he was under relentless pressure from the Palmer Ridge defensive line.
East took their first lead of the game nearing halftime on a play was the legend of Hollywood movies, mostly: The Hook and Ladder. Andrada fired a pass over the middle to Kaeden Bowman for the first down but right as he got hit, he pitched it up for Medrano to grab one handed and run it in for the go ahead touchdown, 26-21 at that point.
Evans finished the game 14/25 for 184 yards but not a single passing touchdown, he did run in a score right before halftime to give the Bears a 27-26 lead in the locker rooms.
“It was back and forth all game and we knew that was going to happen,” said Ty Evans, senior quarterback. “East was a good football team and we knew that they weren’t going to back down, so just play by play, I told everybody just focus on four downs get ten yards.”