Bulldogs’ season ends with loss to Roosevelt
JOHNSTOWN — In reality, it came down to fourth down. More to the point, more than one of them.
The Palisade High School football team gambled its playoff season on fourth-down conversions Saturday against Roosevelt in the first round of the CHSAA Class 3A state playoffs.
The dealer won.
Roosevelt converted a failed conversion into its first points and held on for a 21-15 victory to advance to the second round.
“It’s two yards, we should get it,” Bulldogs coach John Arledge said of going for it on fourth-and-two from their own 32-yard line on the game’s first series.
The play yielded only a one-yard gain, allowing the Roughriders to take over deep in Palisade territory. Roosevelt (7-4) rode the momentum shift, driving to the 5. From there, quarterback Spencer Urban took it over right tackle for the score, and the Roughriders had the lead with less than four minutes gone.
Palisade (8-3) got to near midfield on its next series but was forced to punt. Roosevelt took over at its own 25 and reeled off a long run by Josh Semmler. That set up a seven-yard run by Urban to the corner, and Roosevelt quickly had a 15-0 lead.
The Bulldog offense, which had been stymied to that point, picked up some steam as the first half wound down. Palisade, aided by the running of Caden Woods and the passing combination of Luke McLean to Woods to the left and right flanks, mounted a sustained drive, aided by a key fourth-down conversion with McLean hitting tight end Levi Hoaglund over the middle for 29 yards.
That set up Dalton Hannigan’s seven-yard run on a counter to put Palisade on the board.
The Bulldogs rode that momentum to start the third quarter, and another drive highlighted by Woods’ running and receptions out of the backfield moved the ball inside the Roosevelt 1-yard line.
“Caden had a great game,” Arledge said.
Woods dove over right tackle for the touchdown, and McLean ran a naked bootleg to the left and scored on the conversion run to tie the game.
After the first quarter, Palisade did a good job of holding Roosevelt’s offense in check.
“We stepped up on defense,” Arledge said.
But three Bulldog turnovers in the second half stalled further scoring opportunities.
One of them proved especially costly as McLean failed to take a snap from center cleanly, and the Roughriders recovered near midfield halfway through the fourth quarter.
“That was it,” Arledge said of the game’s turning point.
Roosevelt’s offense, finally energized again, drove to the 5, where Urban capped his day with a run to the flag for the deciding score.
An intercepted pass near midfield as time wound down ended Palisade’s last hope.
“The bottom line,” Arledge said, “too many turnovers.”
Palisade also failed on four fourth-down conversion attempts for the game.
“When you’re that short (on yards to go), you’ve got to think you can get it,” Arledge said, confirming his long-held belief that an offense should gain positive yardage on any play. “Fourth and two, you’ve gotta make it.”