Cherry Creek used five different ways to score as it routed ThunderRidge 41-7 in the Nov. 20 Class 5A state football quarterfinal game played in a driving snowstorm at Shea Stadium in Highlands Ranch.
"I was proud of the way we handled the conditions with the cold and 3 inches of snow on the ground," Cherry Creek coach Dave Logan said. "We knew ThunderRidge was a talented team and we didn't look at them as a 7-4 team. They have good size... and they are a physical team."
Defending state champion Cherry Creek (10-2) will play Valor Christian (10-2) in a semifinal game at 1 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Stutler Bowl in Greenwood Village.
The teams met in last season's classic state championship game, which the Bruins won for their second victory of the 2014 season over the Eagles. However, Valor blanked Creek, 10-0, earlier this season in a Centennial League game.
Both teams have an average margin of victory of more than 30 points per game in their three playoff contests and will find their first true test in each other.
In the quarterfinal game, the kickoff pinned the Grizzlies deep in their own territory, they weren't able to move the ball and, when they set up to punt, the ball sailed wide and Bruin linebacker Austin Cooper covered the ThunderRidge player in the end zone for a safety. The play gave Cherry Creek the lead and they built on it. Six different players, four on offense and two defenders, scored touchdowns for the Bruins.
Bruin quarterback Alex Padilla completed 9-of-15 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Dimitri Stanley and Kyree Owens each caught a touchdown pass.
On the ground for Cherry Creek, Trey Williams carried eight times for 61 yards and a touchdown, while teammate Ashton Riley carried eight times for a touchdown. The Bruins' ground game was effective as they took possession of the ball with just over 10 minutes left in the game, grinding out yardage and using up more than eight minutes before turning the ball over to ThunderRidge on their own 16-yard line.
The defense pitched in, too. In addition to the safety, an errant Grizzlies snap went into the end zone, players from both teams tried to fall on and control the ball until Bruin linebacker Austin Cooper succeeded for a touchdown.
Linebacker Jordan VanDiest scored the other defensive touchdown as he gathered up a loose ball and raced 69 yards for a touchdown.
The remainder of the scoring was done by Charlie Scott, who kicked three extra points.
"It was a great night for my team, and I had a pretty good night too," VanDiest said. "I play defensive line and linebacker. I was playing linebacker when I got the touchdown. On that play, their quarterback tossed the ball. I batted the ball back to myself and just took off running. I tried to run hard while trying to be careful not to slip or lose my footing. It was weird to see all that open field in front of me. I'm not used to seeing that."
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