The Fossil Ridge High School football team had its playoff hopes take a serious hit Friday night.
The SaberCats lost 28-25 to Denver East after a furious late rally in a game that will likely bump Fossil Ridge off the playoff bubble.
Fossil Ridge (5-3, 1-2 Mount Elbert Conference) struck first on a 3-yard run after an 80-yard drive to open the game.
Denver East (4-4, 2-1 Mount Elbert) tied the game early in the second quarter as Bubba Flowers connected with Connell Maxwell from 13 yards out.
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Fossil Ridge took the lead shortly after on a safety. Evan Bergerson pinned Denver East at its own 1 and a host of SaberCats sacked Flowers on the first play after that.
Denver East took the lead on a screen pass to Tre Myrick, who flat out ran past all defenders for an 82-yard score. Fossil Ridge cut it to 14-12 on Bergerson’s 51-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Fossil Ridge missed several chances to score in the first half, with several wide open receivers downfield, but passes unable to connect.
“Just the little things here and there (cost us),” Fossil Ridge coach Zak Bigelow said.
Denver East added a touchdown on Brock Anderson returned for a touchdown.
Fossil Ridge’s Kevyn Simpson was hurt on the play. He was wheeled off the field on a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance after being down for roughly 30 minutes. Simpson was able to move his extremities and was talking when he was taken to the hospital.
On the same play Simpson was hurt, Roberts also went down. He remained in uniform on the sideline, but without his helmet and he was unable to return to play.
Tanner Hoke took his spot at quarterback.
Fossil Ridge had one last chance, down 21-12 with seven minutes left and the ball, but Myrick picked off Hoke’s deflected pass.
Denver East scored on Jare Bryant’s 11-yard run three plays after the interception to make it 28-12. Donovan Murphree caught a 59-yard touchdown from Hoke to pull Fossil Ridge within 10 on the next possession. On the ensuing possession, Murphree caught a 41-yard score to pull withing three, but Fossil Ridge couldn’t get the ball back.
“I’m proud of them for continuing to battle back,” Bigelow said. “I know they wanted to win that one for Kevyn, so that’s disappointing.”
With an RPI ranking of 19 in Class 5A entering the game, Fossil Ridge was just outside the 16-team field. With weak RPI opponents left, the SaberCats likely needed to win out to stay in the chase.
The SaberCats host the Far Northeast Warriors at 7 p.m. Thursday in the second-to-last game of the season.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.
DENVER EAST 28, FOSSIL RIDGE 25
Denver East 0 14 7 7 — 28
Fossil Ridge 7 5 0 13 — 25
FRHS — Griffin Roberts 3 run (Evan Bergerson kick), 7:34.
DE — Connell Maxwell 13 catch from Bubba Flowers (Sam Adix kick), 10:43.
FRHS — Team tackle for safety, 4:37.
DE — Tre Myrick 82 catch from Blowers (Adix kick), 2:06.
FRHS — Bergerson 51 kick, 00:00.
DE — Brock Anderson 30 interception return (Adix kick), 8:05.
DE — Jare Bryant 11 run (Adix kick), 6:43.
FR — Donovan Murphree 59 catch from Tanner Hoke (pass failed), 4:51.
FR — Murphree 41 catch from Hoke (Bergerson kick), 2:43.