Palisade tops Moffat County in festive atmosphere at Dawg Pound

Palisade High School quarterback Luke McLean dives for a first down Saturday during the first half of the Bulldogs’ 39-20 homecoming victory over Moffat County at the Dawg Pound in Palisade. The second-ranked Bulldogs improved to 5-0 with the win.

Not every resident of Palisade turned out Saturday, but it sure seemed that way.

“I love playing here,” senior receiver/defensive back Lane Orman said after the second-ranked Bulldogs overcame a sloppy third quarter to remain undefeated with a 39-20 win over Moffat County. “The atmosphere is awesome. I’m pretty sure the whole town of Palisade is here right now.”

Playing its homecoming game at the Dawg Pound behind the high school has been a hit with the community.

“It’s definitely a fun atmosphere,” senior running back/safety J.T. Townsend said. “We get more fans here than we do at Stocker. It’s closer for the older people and the people who can’t get out as much. It’s definitely good to play here at least once.

“It we could get lights here, it would be great to play here every weekend.”

The bleachers were packed, fans set up blankets and chairs behind each end zone and others stood along the track on the sideline, giving the day a small-town, festive atmosphere.

“We love playing here,” junior receiver/safety Caden Woods said. “It’s an actual home game. We love the park, but this is our home.”

Palisade (5-0, 2-0 Western Slope Conference) had the game in control at halftime, and that might have been part of the problem.

Palisade led 24-0 and was manhandling the Bulldogs from Craig (1-4, 1-1) at the line of scrimmage. Moffat County was alternating quarterbacks every few plays to try to establish any kind of offense, but nothing worked.

“I think everything that happened started up front with the offensive and defensive lines,” Woods said. “We had trouble with the skinny kids, but our line had a great day.”

Palisade had success with its short passing game and counter runs. On its third play from scrimmage, Woods caught a swing pass from Luke McLean and ran 28 yards for a score.

The Bulldogs had to punt on their next series, but Jacob Teeter dropped the ball and Townsend jumped on it at the 31. That set up his 9-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead after Spencer Jackson kicked his second extra point of the quarter.

Jackson added a 25-yard field goal with 7 minutes to play in the half after the Palisade defense sacked Bubba Ivera for a 12-yard loss on fourth down.

Palisade recovered another dropped punt at the 15 with 3:41 to play in the half, and McLean led the Bulldogs on a nine-play, 85-yard scoring drive.

He hit Orman in stride on first down for a 33-yard gain to near midfield and Ronald Kuntz tight-roped the sideline for a 15-yard gain, stepping out of bounds on the 6.

McLean threw a quick pass in the left flat to Daniel Salazar for a 6-yard touchdown and a 24-0 halftime lead.

“We sure didn’t play like we can,” Orman said. “We played the first half like we can, but not the second half.”

Two bad snaps and an incomplete pass on fourth down hurt Palisade on its first drive of the third quarter, and Moffat County hit quickly.

Ivers, who rotated with Mason Updike at quarterback much of the first half, hit Miguel Molina over the middle for a 65-yard score, and after the kick failed, Palisade gave the ball right back.

The kickoff bounced to Ronald Kuntz, who couldn’t find the handle, and it bounced toward the end zone, where Moffat County recovered on the 2. Michael Samuelson scored on the first play, and Moffat County made the 2-point conversion to pull within 24-14.

Moffat County used two more big plays to score and start thinking upset.

“We were definitely ready to play in the first half,” Townsend said. “The second half we kind of fell apart. That can never happen. That’s horrible.”

Fullback Quinn Zamora put the game away with touchdown runs of 1 and 3 yards in the fourth quarter to send the home folks home happy.

“Pride,” Orman said of what helped Palisade regroup in the fourth quarter. “That’s all I’ve got for you. Pride. We couldn’t lose our homecoming to these guys, we just couldn’t.”


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