Bulldogs grind out win vs. D’Evelyn
LAKEWOOD — With its lead whittled down to seven points and a little more than five minutes remaining in the game, the Palisade High School offense turned to the boys up front to get the job done.
A blocking scheme that had paved the way for the Bulldogs all afternoon Saturday didn’t disappoint when it mattered most. Palisade ran down the clock with a 12-play drive, picking up four first downs to hold off D’Evelyn 36-29 at Trailblazer Stadium.
Fourth-ranked Palisade (2-0) rushed for 248 yards, averaging more than five yards a carry, to defeat the No. 2 Jaguars.
“It was amazing,” Bulldogs sophomore quarter Luke McLean said of the offensive line. “Those five guys, they just took everybody 5 yards back every time. It’s easy to run the ball, and they (made) everyone that ran the ball look good.”
McLean led the attack with 141 yards rushing and a touchdown and Caden Woods added 61 yards and two scores. After D’Evelyn (1-1) went ahead 21-14 early in the third quarter, Palisade reeled off 22 consecutive points to take a 15-point lead.
The run started after Ronald Kuntz answered the Jags’ score with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown despite initially bobbling the ball. Woods then picked off Caleb Flack’s first pass on D’Evelyn’s next possession, and nine plays later Woods scored from 4 yards out.
“The main thing was trying to get the ball to our offense,” Woods said. “If our offense had the ball, we had the game.”
Flack, who threw for 334 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, was intercepted immediately once again. Safety Jamr Rhodes returned the ball to the D’Evelyn 13-yard line. Three plays later, McLean fumbled the ball into the end zone, but Connor Charlesworth was there to recover for the touchdown.
McLean averaged 7 yards a carry and threw for 37 more. His one blemish was an interception before the half that set up a D’Evelyn touchdown.
“I really thought he did great after he threw the interception,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “Coming out and having a great second half like he did, he forgot about it and he did what he was told. He’s just a tough kid.”
D’Evelyn cut the lead to seven points on Flack’s second touchdown pass to Luke Stratman, but the Bulldogs were able to finish the game off with their punishing ground attack.
“They controlled the game,“Arledge said of the final five minutes. “They just controlled it. D’Evelyn came down and scored and got within seven of us, and our O-line just said, ‘not today.’ ”