For the second consecutive week, the third-seeded Fowler High School football team found itself in an early two-touchdown deficit in an eight-man state playoff game.

But also for the second time in as many weeks, the Grizzlies found a way to come from behind as they defeated seventh-seeded Pike's Peak Christian by a score of 20-12 Saturday at Vibber Field.

"Our kids just keep believing," said Fowler coach Mark Van Sickle. "We're never going to stop fighting and we're never going to stop battling. We haven't got off to the best of starts, but I believe in those guys and they believe in themselves and I'm really proud of them."

Fowler had the ball first, but did not move very far. After a short punt, PPCS's Hudson Grant took a pitch from Jackson Thorne on the following play, and he raced 70 yards for the first touchdown of the game.

Grant's extra-point attempt was blocked and the Eagles led 6-0 with 8:18 left in the first quarter.

The Grizzlies had the game's only takeaway later in the first as Grant bobbled a low snap in punt formation. Johnathan Mobbley recovered the fumble and Fowler had the ball at the Pike's Peak Christian 22.

The Grizzlies, however, were unable to cash in as they were stopped at the PPCS 9-yard line early in the second.

Five plays later, Grant scored his second touchdown, this time breaking several tackles en route to a 71-yard run to the end zone. Thorne's two-point pass was incomplete and the Eagles had a 12-0 advantage with 10:01 to play before halftime.

Fowler got on the scoreboard on its next possession. Luke Bitter threw a 27-yard pass to Braxton Bates to put the Grizzlies in the red zone. Then Damian Romero scored on a 15-yard run. Bitter's pass on the two-point conversion was unsuccessful and the lead was cut to 12-6 with 7:12 left in the half.

The Eagles punted on their next possession, and the Grizzlies again got into the end zone. Bitter tossed a 47-yard pass to Romero to put Fowler into scoring position. Bitter scored two plays later on a 30-yard quarterback keeper, and Josh Daniels scored on the two-point conversion to give Fowler a 14-12 lead at halftime.

Fowler scored again late in the third quarter as Jackson Bates broke through the line, and followed his tackles for a 45-yard touchdown run. Bitter threw to Romero on the two-point try, but he was stopped short of the end zone.

Pike's Peak Christian got back to business after Nathan Seay returned the ensuing kickoff 43 yards to the Fowler 35. Thorne then threw a 25-yard pass to Grant to put the Eagles on the 15.

Thorne threw to Seay on fourth down, but Seay was out of bounds and the Eagles turned the ball over on downs.

Pike's Peak Christian had one last chance late in the game, but it could get no further than its own 32 before again turning the ball over on downs.

Fowler had 314 yards of total offense with 240 coming on the ground. Bitter led the running game with 84 yards on 13 carries. Jackson Bates had 68 yards on 11 carries, Daniels had 41 yards on 10 carries, and Romero had 29 yards on two carries.

Bitter also completed two of seven passes for 74 yards. Romero had one catch for 47 yards, and Braxton Bates had one reception for 27 yards.

Pike's Peak Christian accumulated 259 yards of total offense — 228 rushing and 31 passing.

Grant led all rushers with 182 yards on 12 carries.

With the win, Fowler (12-0) will host the eight-man state championship game on Saturday. The Grizzlies will face top-seeded Sedgwick County, which defeated Dayspring Christian Academy 48-0 in Julesburg on Saturday.

"They're very well-coached and very physical," Van Sickle said. "We're going to have to earn it. They don't make mistakes. But we're looking forward to the challenge of facing those guys."

Kickoff at Vibber Field is at 1 p.m.

Fowler 20, Pike's Peak Christian 12

PPCS 6 6 0 0 — 12

Fowler 0 14 6 0 — 20

First quarter

PPC — Grant 70 run (kick blocked), 8:18

Second quarter

PPC — Grant 71 run (pass failed), 10:01

F — Romero 15 run (pass failed), 7:12

F — Bitter 30 run (Daniels run), 0:30

Third quarter

F — J. Bates 45 run (pass failed), 1:09

khamrick@ljtdmail.com