One step closer.
Mancos, with visions of a return trip to the state title game, weathered a comeback attempt from a feisty Lyons team, holding on to win 32-18 to set up a fantastic semifinal matchup with Dove Creek.
Playing on their home field for the final time this season, senior Bluejays set the tone that this wouldn’t be their final game. Behind the guidance of a strong offensive line performance, the Jays ground game dictated play in a decisive second quarter, while the defense came up with big stops to send the visiting Lions (10-1) to their first loss of the season.
Seniors Lane Greenlee and Kenyon Rosales anchor one of the stoutest lines in the eight-man classification, and once they got in gear late in the first quarter, the Jays began running downhill.
Junior Kail Wayman started the scoring barrage after Lyons had opened the game with a scoring drive, knotting the game up at 6 apiece through the opening 12 minutes.
The floodgates opened for the Mancos (9-2) offense after that, with three TDs in quick succession in the second quarter to open a three-score lead heading to the locker room. Senior quarterback Ayden Mathews used his legs to give the Jays their first lead, then threw a touchdown strike to junior Andrew Jaime right before the break.
Their two touchdowns sandwiched around Wayman’s second rushing score of the game, as the junior standout eclipsed 30 touchdowns this campaign. With all the momentum, Mancos marched to the intermission up 24-6.
Lyons, in the midst of one of their program’s best seasons, wouldn’t go quietly. Scores from the visitors midway through the third and fourth quarters raised alarm bells for the home fans, as Lyons climbed within 24-18 with six minutes to go.
However, showing the grit of an experienced program, head coach Josh Gardner’s Bluejays responded with a decisive, game-ending drive, capped with a touchdown run from junior Levi Martin to end the comeback threat.
After never having made a state semifinal prior to 2021, the No. 3 Jays now find themselves in their second consecutive final four appearance. For a second straight year, the opponent that awaits them will be a league foe.
The highly anticipated rematch with Dove Creek (11-0) awaits, as both programs held serve on their home fields in the first two rounds of the postseason. Mancos will look to exact revenge against the Bulldogs, who defeated Mancos 34-26 on Oct. 7.
Mancos looks to continue a recent trend in the series, where the road team has emerged victorious in the last four meetings between the Bluejays and Bulldogs – and in all four contests, the final margin was one possession.
The duel between the Four Corners rivals will undoubtedly be a packed house at the Soper Sports Complex in Dove Creek this weekend, with the winner moving on to the CSU-Pueblo Thunderbowl for the eight-man state title game under the lights on Friday, Nov. 25, at 6 p.m.
Local radio station 98.7 FM KRTZ will carry all of the action for the semifinal tussle, with fans also able to listen online at krtzradio.com.