LAKEWOOD — Lutheran is going to get another shot to lift the elusive Class 3A football state trophy.

The No. 5-seeded Lions scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to upset No. 1 Green Mountain 27-21 on Saturday afternoon at Jeffco Stadium.

Lutheran (11-2 record) will face league foe No. 2 Holy Family (12-1) in the 3A state championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at the ThunderBowl on the Colorado State University-Pueblo campus.

The Tigers defeated Lutheran 35-28 back on Oct. 6 earlier this season.

“I’m excited for them (Holy Family). I want to see them again,” Lutheran coach Stephen Robbins said when he was told Holy Family defeated Thompson Valley 21-7 in the other 3A semifinal Saturday afternoon. “Rematches are always fun and to get back there (3A title game) for the second year in a row.”

This is the third straight season the Lions have had a deep postseason run. Lutheran lost to Roosevelt in the 3A title game a year ago. In 2021, the Lions lost to eventual state champion Fort Morgan in the 3A semifinals.

“We have been grinding all season long. It has all been about this moment and getting to state,” said Lutheran senior Cole Johnson, who had the go-head touchdown run with 39 seconds remaining to give the Lions a 27-21 lead.

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

Lutheran junior quarterback Ryken Daugaard hit junior receiver Ben Herbek for a huge 24-yard play on a third-and-11 play from Green Mountain’s 26-yard line with under a minute to play in the fourth quarter. Johnson scored his second touchdown of the game with a 2-yard score to give Lutheran the lead for first time since the first quarter.

“It was an awesome moment,” Johnson said about scoring the go-ahead touchdown. “We have been dreaming about this all season. We want to get back to state.”

Green Mountain (12-1) wouldn’t go quietly. Rams’ senior quarterback Blake Weslin connected with senior Austin Beeson for pass plays of 13 and 42 yards to get Green Mountain down to Lutheran’s 10-yard line with 21 seconds left.

“We never stopped believing,” Beeson said. “We all believed until the clock hit zeros.”

Weslin had two incomplete passes and then on third down his pass over the middle was caught by senior Max Choboain, but Lutheran senior Andrew Long made the tackle for no gain. Without any timeouts remaining, the Rams couldn’t get another snap off and the clock and season ran out on Green Mountain.

“I just feel bad for our kids,” Green Mountain coach Jesse German said. “That’s the most grittiest bunch of kids. The most connected bunch of kids. They bought into the program, especially those seniors over the past four years. My heart is really hurting for them.”

Green Mountain grabbed a 21-14 halftime lead thanks to 21 straight points after Lutheran took a 7-0 lead on a 30-yard touchdown run by Johnson that opened the scoring in the first quarter.

Choboian had a 2-yard touchdown run on a 4th-down play with 2:17 left in the first quarter for the Rams. Weslin gave the Rams a 8-7 lead with a 2-point conversion run.

Weslin went to the air for the Rams next two scores. He hit Beeson for a 38-yard touchdown on a slant over the middle to push the lead to 14-7. Weslin threw a perfect ball to junior Dax Gomez for a 33-yard touchdown with 4:30 left in the first half that put the Rams ahead 21-7.

However, Lutheran answered with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Daugaard to Jack Wesolowski to get the Lions within a score at halftime.

“Ryken has been steady and he has been battling a lot of injuries,” Robbins said. “That was one of the grittiest performances. He didn’t freak out and kept on getting us down the field.”

After a scoreless third quarter, Daugaard hit Wesolowski again for a 66-yard touchdown right after Green Mountain had turned the ball over on downs on the Lions’ 34-yard line. The strike tied the game at 21-21 with 6:53 left in the fourth quarter.

“The emotion swing is unbelievable,” Robbins said. “We have battled adversity. We know what true adversity is. We had to go in and out of games without players, missing players. But our kids believed. No matter what they were going to get it done.”

Green Mountain was forced to punt on its next possession, but the Lions fumbled the punt to give the Rams the ball at Lutheran’s 46-yard line. However, the Rams couldn’t pick up a first down and turned the ball over on downs.

“That was a hell of a game,” German said. “A super tough game. A real physical game.”

The Lions went 60 yards on the eventual game-winning drive in the final four minutes to take the lead and then get the goal-line stand in the final seconds.

“We want to finish the job,” Robbins said. “Our kids and coaches know what to expect going down there (Pueblo). I’m glad it’s going to be a rematch with Holy Family.”

The Rams will have to wait for another chance to get back to the a state championship game.

“It’s pretty much just bitter,” Beeson said of the second season-ending loss in the semifinals over the past two years. “The expectations for ourselves was so high. We wanted to do more.”

Green Mountain’s last trip to a state championship football game was back in 1999. The Rams defeated Skyline 42-6 in the 4A title game at Jeffco Stadium. Green Mountain also won the 4A state title in 1995.

“I’m proud of these kids and what they have done,” German said. “The legacy the seniors will leave. The standard they have helped create and strengthen. I feel lucky to be their coach.”