Battle Mountain shocks Palisade in 3A showdown

EDWARDS — A track meet type of game between the Palisade and Battle Mountain high school football teams Friday night ended with the Huskies leaving the Bulldogs in the dust.

Battle Mountain scored touchdowns on plays of 8, 37 and 38 yards to break away from a 21-21 halftime tie and hand second-ranked Palisade a 49-28 Class 3A Western Slope Conference loss in front of a big homecoming crowd.

“They were just flat-out better than we were tonight,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “We had a mo-ped and they had a NASCAR. That’s how much further ahead they were.”

The loss for the previously unbeaten Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1 WSC) was their most lopsided since the 2009 Class 3A state playoffs, when Pueblo Central handed them a 34-0 loss. It’s the first time Battle Mountain has beaten Palisade since the early 1990s, former Battle Mountain coach Bob Isbell said.

And despite the game-high 135 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Palisade quarterback Luke McLean, the Huskies (5-1, 2-1) used big plays to bail themselves out of trouble, keep their offensive drives moving and, eventually, pull away from the Bulldogs in the third quarter.

Battle Mountain lost 40-0 to Palisade last season, missing several players because of injuries and suspensions.

Huskies coach David Joyce said prior to the season that his team had no second thoughts about scheduling the Bulldogs as their homecoming opponent.

“If you grew up like me, you ain’t scared of nothing,” Joyce said Friday. “I’m not scared of a bunch of boys just because they eat a bunch of peaches. Now that we’re at full strength, we’re on the verge of really building a program.”

Zach Guida finished with 124 yards on 13 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 3, 37 and 5 yards.

Chris Libertini had a pair of rushing TDs, Reeve Sanders had 80 rushing yards on 12 carries, and Battle Mountain outgained Palisade 419-294.

“We just didn’t play the way that we should have,” said McLean, who finished 7 of 20 passing for 91 yards with three interceptions. “I don’t know what it was. We just came up here and laid an egg.”

From the beginning, each offense did its best to outdo the other.

Battle Mountain opened the game with an 82-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 14-yard touchdown toss from Jake Engle to Sanders. And after the Bulldogs answered with a 5-yard run from McLean, Guida put the Huskies back on top with a 3-yard jaunt with 2 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter after Heivan Garcia’s point-after kick.

Palisade tied the score again, capping a 63-yard drive with JT Townsend’s 1-yard scoring run on the first play of the second quarter to make it 14-14 after Spencer Jackson’s point after.

They tied the score again on McLean’s 4-yard TD run with 1:24 left in the second quarter, answering the 6-yard run from Libertini that gave the Huskies a 21-14 cushion.

Libertini’s 8-yard TD run with 8:25 left gave the Huskies an insurmountable lead.

“This ain’t the end of the season,” Arledge said. “Just because you wear a Palisade jersey doesn’t mean God is going to give you every win. They were better then we were, they were faster than we were and they played harder than we did. We just have to get better.”


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