Bulldogs fall to Silver Creek in first round of 3A playoffs

Palisade quarterback Luke McLean scrambles out of the pocket Friday night during the Bulldogs’ 14-12 loss to Silver Creek in the first round of the Class 3A football playoffs.

The Palisade High School football team found out Friday night just how cruel the game can be.

The Bulldogs came up less than one yard short on a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter at Stocker Stadium, losing 14-12 to Silver Creek in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.

“It’s tough,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “The kids and the coaches make great sacrifices to get to this point, and someone has to lose.

“It’s just too bad when your kids have to lose.”

Offensively, the Bulldogs (9-2) struggled to finish drives. Palisade worked its way into Silver Creek territory, but was turned away on three different occasions.

It began on the opening drive of the game when the Bulldogs stalled at the Raptors’ 25-yard line. The Bulldogs went three-and-out on their next series, and Silver Creek’s spread offense took advantage.

The Raptors struck first on an 11-play drive that ended with quarterback Austin Apodaca finding K.C. Lord on a 10-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-10.

“Our defensive backfield didn’t play as well as we should have,” Palisade safety Jamr Rhodes said. “We weren’t aggressive enough.”

Palisade went three-and-out on its next drive.

Arledge said the Bulldogs’ inability to get any offensive momentum was a factor in the first half.

“We really didn’t have any first downs in the first half and that hurt us,” Arledge said.

Silver Creek took a 14-0 lead on its next drive, going 13 plays. Apodaca found Lord again, this time from 8 yards out on a crossing route similar to the first score.

Lord finished with 62 yards on five catches.

“That 14-0 lead was huge,” Silver Creek coach Mike Apodaca said.

The two-touchdown deficit seemed to wake up the Bulldogs.

Palisade responded with a 71-yard drive that began with a 38-yard run by Ronald Kuntz. Kuntz capped the drive with a 26-yard touchdown run.

The Bulldogs attempted the extra point, but Lassi Leppanen’s kick hit the right upright and was no good.

Silver Creek had a chance to add to its lead before the end of the half.

The Raptors drove the ball to the Bulldogs’ 10, but a sack by Andrew Buck on third down pushed the ball back.

Apodaca’s pass into the end zone on fourth down was intercepted by Rhodes.

“We had a chance to go up 21-0,” Mike Apodaca said. “We turned the ball over and in a playoff game that can come back to haunt you.”

Both defenses held in the third quarter, with Silver Creek stopping Palisade twice in Raptors territory. The Bulldogs’ Dasjon Buford stopped a Silver Creek drive by intercepting Apodaca inside the 20.

In the fourth quarter, Palisade capitalized on a Raptors’ fumble with a 13-play scoring drive. Luke McLean capped the drive with a 4-yard run on fourth down, outrunning the Raptors to the pylon.

McLean kept it on the two-point conversion, but was stopped inside the 1.

McLean, a sophomore, finished with 59 yards on 22 carries.

“Luke McLean is a tough kid,” Rhodes said. “This team is going to be great the next two years.”

It was the third consecutive first-round playoff loss for the Bulldogs.

“I love our kids, and it’s disappointing,” Arledge said. “It hurts.”


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