BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Although they won 42-28 and dominated the second half, the Cherry Creek High School Bruins (Creek) did not overwhelm Boulder’s Fairview Knights in the 5A quarter-final on November 22 at Greenwood Village’s Stutler Bowl until late in the game.
One of the game’s heroes was Fairview back-up quarterback Liam O’Brien, who stepped in after starting QB Aidan Atkinson was arrested Friday morning. Atkinson was charged with three counts of sexual assault, one count of attempted sexual assault, and five counts of unlawful sexual contact. All the events leading up to these charges occurred on a party bus in September 2018. Atkinson was a minor at the time of the incident, but 18 at the time of his arrest. Atkinson was the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2018 when he was a junior and holds the Colorado state titles in passing yards and passing touchdowns. After receiving offers from multiple universities, including CU, CSU, Mississippi, Boise State, Kansas, and Wisconsin, he committed to Northwestern University in June.
Following a Fairview fumble, Creek scored first on a 28-yard run by senior running back Jayle Stacks, who was hurt early in last week’s game and didn’t play. Fairview soon evened the score on a pass from O’Brien to wide receiver Grant Page. It was all tied up at 7-7 after the first period.
After Creek turned the ball over on downs early in the second period, Fairview scored twice in succession but missed one PAT. With 4:25 to go in the half, the score was 20-7, Fairview. Creek defensive coordinator Tom Doherty spoke to his team, who was getting anxious, on the sideline. He said, “Calm down, relax, and do your job. We’ll be fine.” A minute later, Creek’s offense was at the 24-yard line. A long pass to junior wide receiver Chase Penry got Creek back in the game. At 2:38 left in the second period, it was 20-14, Fairview.
A long pass from O’Brien broken up by Creek junior cornerback Al Ashford III was followed by a sack of the QB by Creek junior linebacker Marcus Alexander, leaving Fairview with a punt from the 10-yard line, when Creek Coach Dave Logan called a time-out. The punt return by junior cornerback Myles Purchase had Creek starting at their 40-yard line with less than a minute to play in the half. With ten seconds left, Penry caught another touchdown. After the PAT by senior kicker Alexi Sanchez Ventura, Creek was ahead 21-20 going into the locker room to warm up at halftime.
Just one minute into the second half, Purchase intercepted O’Brien and ran the ball back for a touchdown. After a pass interference call against Creek on a fourth and ten at their own 32-yard line, Fairview scored. A 2-point conversion tied the game at 28-28 with 6:14 left in the third period.
On the next possession, Creek QB Julian Hammond III converted on fourth down twice by keeping the ball and running it himself. With 10:38 left in the game, Logan called a trick play on fourth down that worked but was called back due to an illegal block by Creek. Fairview’s next possession resulted in a punt that was returned for a touchdown by Purchase, making the score 35-28 after Sanchez Ventura’s PAT. Creek scored again with just under five minutes left, resulting in a final score of 42-28 in favor of the Bruins.
The Cherry Creek Bruins will face fifth-ranked Pomona in the semi-final game of the state championship at 1:00 pm on Nov. 30 at NAAC Stadium at 19500 W 64th Pkwy in Arvada.
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