No. 11 Erie dominates No. 6 Denver South, advances to 4A quarterfinals


When you’re facing a quarterback as explosive as Erie junior Blake Barnett, the margin for error is nearly nonexistent.

Denver South learned that painful lesson Friday night in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs at All-City Stadium.

Barnett rushed for 121 yards and four touchdowns and passed for 172 yards and another score in the Tigers’ 35-10 victory. No. 11 Erie (8-4) moves on to the quarterfinals where it will face No. 3 Ponderosa next week. Ponderosa, which beat Erie in Week 1, thumped No. 14 Pueblo West, 33-14, Friday night.

Sixth-seeded South, playing without injured senior wide receivers/defensive backs Rashad Caldwell and CJ Morm, key components of its offense, finished 9-2.

The Tigers, feeding off a ferocious defense, dominated the second half while the Tigers’ offense played keep-away. South, in fact, had just three plays and a punt in the third quarter, and that punt was blocked.

Barnett’s 1-yard TD run put Erie ahead 21-10 in the third quarter and the Tigers were in a prime position to bury the Ravens late. The Tigers had converted two fourth-down plays and had a first-and-goal at the 5. But Barnett threw an end zone pass across the grain and OJ Thomas picked him off.

South was reenergized for a moment, but Erie’s defense smothered Ravens senior quarterback Joseph Capra and Erie cruised to victory from there. Barnett added another 1-yard TD run in the fourth and then intercepted a Capra pass late in the quarter, returning it 47 yards to set up his own 2-yard TD run.

Erie led 14-10 at the half as the teams traded big-play punches.

The Tigers struck first, with Barnett connecting with senior Caden Lettis for a 49-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter. Barnett’s first pass of the game was a beauty, with the quarterback rolling out and then hitting Lettis in stride on a deep post pattern. Barnett called an audible on the play when he saw the defense the Ravens were in.

But the Ravens responded with a 97-yard drive, highlighted by a 54-yard run by junior running back Chevelle Early, who finished with 111 yards on 16 carries. Capra finished off the drive, scrambling out of the pocket and threading an 11-yard TD pass to Henry Danford in the end zone.


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