Mistakes costly for Paonia in playoff loss to Limon

PAONIA — The No. 12 Paonia High School football team had to play close to perfect to keep advancing in the Class 1A playoffs.

Saturday at Dan Lawrence Field, the Eagles made too many costly mistakes against perennial Class 1A power Limon, falling 46-21 in the quarterfinal round.

“We didn’t play nearly close to our best,” Paonia coach Craig Cerise said. “It was too ugly, and too many mistakes.”

The Eagles (5-6) had four turnovers, but started off on the plus side of the turnover ratio by recovering a Limon fumble on the third play of the game.

But the Eagles gave it right back to the No. 4 Badgers four plays later when Coltyn Beedy intercepted a Casey Gillenwater pass.

The Badgers scored the game’s first points on the next play, with Bradey Scherrer running for a 34-yard touchdown.

Undeterred, Paonia showed its offensive potential on the next series.

Gillenwater hit Adrian Penny on a third-down slant route, and Penny outran the Limon defenders for a 62-yard touchdown.

The score tied the game at 6-6.

The scoring drive was costly for the Eagles — their leading receiver, Blaine Escher, was injured after catching a five-yard pass on first down.

Escher didn’t return to the game.

“He’s one of my main receivers, so that made a difference,” Gillenwater said.

After the Eagles’ score, Limon took advantage of a big kickoff return from Gavin Liggett, and took a 13-6 lead on Brett Schmidt’s 20-yard touchdown run.

After Schmidt’s score, the Badgers found their rhythm and started to control the game. Limon scored on its next two series to take a 27-6 lead.

Paonia had two more opportunities to score before the end of the first half, but promising drives fizzled.

“There were a lot of opportune moments that we didn’t capitalize on,” Cerise said. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”

The Eagles had their biggest opportunities early in the second half after a 40-yard pass play from Gillenwater to Cody Rapke put the ball at the 5.

Paonia had four chances to score, but came up empty.

Limon took over and went on a 95-yard drive that was capped by Schmidt’s 3-yard touchdown run for a 33-6 lead.

“That was huge not getting that,” Cerise said. “We were just down a couple of scores and we had our chances.”

Limon iced the game on the next series when Gillenwater’s pass was intercepted by Dilan Yowell at the Eagles’ 30.

Daniel Kappel pushed the score to 40-6 on a 4-yard run.

Gillenwater had two late touchdown passes to Anthony Roeber, but didn’t have the day he was hoping for.

The senior finished 11 of 34 for 253 yards and three touchdowns.

“The offense wasn’t clicking,” Gillenwater said. “Nothing seemed to work how we wanted it to.”

Despite the disappointing loss, the Eagles seemed grateful to have made it this far.

“We did some good things here at the end,” Cerise said. “I hope they remember how successful they were, because not many people thought we’d be able to make it to this point.”


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