LAKEWOOD — The first Class 5A football semifinal game lived up to the hype.
It pitted No. 2-seed and undefeated Columbine against No. 3 Cherry Creek with a spot to the state championship game on the line.
In a classic, defensive slugfest, the Bruins outlasted the Rebels in the heavyweight fight with a narrow 10-7 victory to give Cherry Creek its first title game appearance since 2014.
"This group has worked exceptionally hard," coach Dave Logan said. "They've been dedicated in terms of how they've gone at the offseason, and we've tested them in a way we didn't the last few years. I'm real proud of this bunch."
Both defenses were stout on Friday night at Jeffco Stadium.
Neither offense was able to get much going, being held scoreless until midway through the second quarter when Cherry Creek finally struck first with a field goal. Mac Willis connected on his 37-yard attempt to put the Bruins up 3-0.
Columbine then responded at the end of the quarter with a touchdown drive that was capped off with a 3-yard touchdown run from quarterback Logan DeArment took in the keeper.
That would give Columbine its only lead, going into halftime up 7-3. It also later proved to be the Rebels' lone score of the game.
Cherry Creek took the lead back on a 6-yard touchdown rush by running back Seamus Henderson. Columbine was driving late in the fourth quarter, but was halted when the Rebels lost a fumble to the Bruins defense that would allow them to run out the clock.
"That team (Columbine) is powerful. They score a lot of points, and they have rolled over just about everybody they've played, offensively," Logan said. "I thought our defense hung in there and made a lot of big plays, key stops -- and then the critical turnover at the end really was the difference."
Cherry Creek will play the winner of Saturday's semifinal game between No. 1 Valor Christian and No. 5 Grandview.
The Bruins have not played the Eagles this season, but were defeated by the Wolves in double-overtime in the regular-season finale that cost them the Metro East League title.
"I know (Grandview) is very good. I know Valor is very good. Whichever team comes out of that is going to be a hell of a game," Logan said.
Columbine's 2018 season ends with a 12-1 overall record, which included an undefeated run to the Metro West League crown.