Third time's a charm. Cliche, sure. But the Pomona Panthers will take it. In their third straight trip to the 5A football state title game, the Panthers emerged victorious. Pomona defeated Eaglecrest 56-49 to clinch its first championship in the sport since 1988.
It appeared from the get-go, the Panthers had met their match for speed. Both the Panthers and Raptors feature state track and field competitors, and the speed was on display at Sports Authority Field Saturday evening. Their 105 combined points was the most ever scored in a 5A title game, and the two teams put up 1,255 net yards together on the night.
After a couple of big runs from Max Borghi, Pomona was the first to get on the board on a 32-yard strike from Ryan Marquez to Billy Pospisil to make it 7-0 Pomona with 5:02 remaining in the first quarter. Marquez and Pospisil hooked up for another touchdown minutes later -- this time a 55-yard drive to take a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Eaglecrest would score on the ensuing drive on a 25-yard pass from Jalen Mergerson to Dawson Macomber to make it a one-score game in the second quarter.
Washington State University commit Max Borghi had a sensational game, going 247 yards on 31 carries. He tip-toed the line on a 28-yard rush to the end zone to give Pomona a 21-7 lead with under ten minutes to go in the first half.
Not to be outdone by his counterpart, Kenny Wanting would find the end zone on a 72-yard rush on the following possession to put Eaglecrest right back in the game. Wanting finished with 27 carries for 210 yards.
The Raptors would get another break when Borghi, on a rare fumble, turned the ball over near the goal line, and it was picked up by Victor Garnes who took it all the way out to midfield. Wanting would power his team down the field, and eventually into the end zone to tie the game at 21 with five minutes to go in the half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Pomona fumbled again, this time straight into the arms of Sam Onilenla who rushed it back for a touchdown and Eaglecrest's first lead of the game.
The back-and-fourth action continued through the first half before ending in a 35-35 tie.
It wasn't until the second half that Pomona would get a lead and keep it. Marquez -- a three year starter and one of just three players who played in the Panthers' previous two state championship games -- led his team, completing 20 of 22 attempts for 345 yards and five touchdowns.
Despite the high scoring affair, the Panthers got a stop when they needed it most. Kenny Maes grabbed an interception in the fourth quarter -- which very well may have been the difference-maker in this game.
Tune in to the 9NEWS Sunday morning Prep Rally at 7:45 and 8:45 for more action from the game, and check back for extended game highlights.