Grandview entered Saturday’s semifinal game against Pomona at Legacy Stadium with ample momentum considering the Wolves pulled off a stunning upset of two-time defending champion Valor Christian in the previous round.
But the question of whether Grandview could topple a Class 5A behemoth for a second consecutive week was answered quickly, and decisively, by the Panthers’ two biggest stars en route to Pomona’s 42-20 blowout victory.
“It’s exciting to be back in the title game, and we have more fuel in our chest than you can even imagine,” said senior tailback Max Borghi, who ran for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns. “We knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle, but we came out with the same physical, no-fear mentality we’ve had all season.”
First, senior quarterback Ryan Marquez hit junior wideout David Ross for a 73-yard touchdown pass on the Panthers’ opening possession, and then Marquez found junior Colton Muller for a 98-yard scoring reception a few minutes later to put Pomona up 14-0 by the end of the first.
The second quarter was then Borghi’s turn to break out, as the Washington State commit burst for a 46-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 21-0 and silence the blue and white home crowd.
— Kyle Newman (@KyleNewmanDP) November 26, 2017
Grandview senior quarterback Kyle Smith finally propelled the Wolves to a much-needed score late in the second quarter, as his 51-yard scamper set up a two-yard touchdown push by junior tailback Jordan Billingsley to make it a 21-7 game entering the break.
But Pomona did not let off the gas in the second half.
“Our guys were (mad) at half, because it should have been 35-7,” Madden said. “Our guys were basically saying, ‘dang it,’ and they focused on fixing those little things and came back out excited for the third quarter.”
Borghi added two more touchdown runs, of 13 and 56 yards, to make it 35-7 with less than five minutes to play in the third. At that point, the Wolves’ faithful began to head toward the exits.
Pomona’s domination up front was evident — junior Michael Marquez and his fellow linemen gave the Panthers’ skill guys plenty of time to work, while defensively, sophomore linebacker Sanjay Strickland and the Big Black mostly held Grandview in check minus two more Billingsley rushing touchdowns after the game was out of reach.
“The key was our offensive line blocked so well, and it allowed our skill kids to do what they do,” Madden said. “A team like Grandview likes to get a lot of pressure on you and get into the backfield, and our line didn’t let that happen.”
The Panthers (11-2) are set to face Eaglecrest (13-0) in the state championship game next Saturday at Sports Authority Field.
“Their quarterback’s a stud, their running back’s playing great, they got two big O-linemen and their D-line is freakish, too,” Madden said of the Raptors. “And obviously, we have to worry about number 12 (Victor Garnes) — we cannot let him get loose on offense, and we have to make sure he doesn’t steal the ball on defense.”