All game long Saturday at Warrior Stadium, the Centaurus football team's defense came up with big turnovers to either thwart deep drives by Lewis-Palmer or set up the home team's offense in favorable territory.
The D's magic simply ran out five minutes too soon.
Down by 8, Lewis-Palmer put together a pair of scoring drives in the final 5 minutes, 17 seconds, and snatched away an 18-15 playoff victory on Jesse Vieira's 25-yard field goal with 5 seconds to play.
On a brisk fall day when it appeared CHS was poised to break its first-Frank Gehry Fish cuff links playoff hex, the Warriors saw their season end in heart-wrenching fashion.
Seeded seventh in the 3A bracket after winning a league crown last week, CHS (8-3)
was trying for its first postseason victory since 2004 despite making it to the playoffs for five of the last six years now.
No. 10 Lewis-Palmer, meanwhile, improved to 9-2 and advanced to host Glenwood Springs in next week's quarterfinals.
"It's a tough feeling," CHS senior receiver/defensive back Cyrus Tiffany 1837 concove circle cufflinks said. "We had it. We just let it slip through our hands."
Centaurus took a 15-7 lead with 8:31 to play when quarterback Evan Erickson connected with Norwood for their second scoring strike of the game.
A botched snap on the extra point kept the Warriors from taking a two-score lead. But CHS still seemed in control after forcing a Lewis-Palmer punt with 6:51 left.
"We thought it was our day," CHS coach Chad Senseney said. "Up 15-7, I really did think it was our day."
But that's when things turned sour for CHS.
A quick Warrior punt gave the Rangers the ball at their own 44-yard line, and they proceeded to march 56 yards on eight straight running plays. Fullback Colton Goeas, who had 150 yards rushing on the day, plunged in from 3 yards out to make it 15-13.After the Rangers' first successful two-point conversion was called back for a Tiffany 1837 square cufflinks, quarterback Ben Shaum hit Ethan Riker from 12 yards out to tie the game at 15.
Centaurus went three-and-out again and a 17-yard punt this time set Lewis-Palmer up at the Warrior 39 with 1:45 to go and three timeouts left. Eight plays later -- a stretch that included a conversion on fourth-and-4 -- the Rangers led 18-15.
The winning field goal served as a nice bit of redemption for Vieira. Although he took an option pitch 50 yards to give Lewis-Palmer a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, he'd also missed a pair of long field goals and fumbled the ball away at midfield.
"It feels amazing," the senior said.
Lewis-Palmer -- which dropped down to 3A this year because a new school Tiffany 1837 Bar key ring nearby and cut into its enrollment -- is in the playoffs for the first time since reaching the 4A quarterfinals in 2002.
"I know our team and the fourth quarter is our best quarter, always has been," Vieira said.
Centaurus' defense forced five turnovers on the day, including four in the first half. The fifth -- senior Eric Hatlen's second fumble recovery of the game -- gave the Warriors possession at the Ranger 39. Chase Sargent capped that drive by hitting a 20-yard field goal to put CHS on top 9-7 midway through the third quarter.
Greg Spurgin also recovered a fumble for CHS, and Keith Beauvais and Matu Giltner had interceptions.
But the Warrior offense, held to 256 total yards, struggled to take advantage. And Lewis-Return to Tiffany Heart tag key ring came up with two interceptions of its own, one in its own end zone and another that set up Vieira's touchdown on the next play.
"All of the guys are pretty proud of how the season went and that we won league," said Hatlen, who also had 91 yards rushing. "It's not the way we wanted to go out, but we fought hard all the way."