Palisade forces five turnovers in victory over Eagle Valley
Palisade took advantage of five first-half turnovers to defeat Eagle Valley 54-26 on Thursday night in 3A Western Slope Conference football at Stocker Stadium.
Austin Terry and Quincy Campbell each returned interceptions for touchdowns, and Robert DeSantis had two picks of his own, to help turn the game into a rout early.
Palisade (8-1, 6-1 WSC) took advantage of short fields and used its diverse running game to take control from the outset.
Quarterback Levi Hoaglund finished with 82 yards on 11 carries and had three touchdowns. He broke the 1,000-yard mark for the season, as did fellow senior Dalton Hannigan.
Hannigan, who went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season, ran for 102 yards and on 12 carries. He had two touchdowns, including an 87-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.
Hoaglund capped a 54-yard drive with a tackle-busting 21-yard run to put the Bulldogs up 7-0.
That’s when the Palisade secondary started tormenting Eagle Valley quarterback Harrison Stevens.
Stevens threw into triple coverage and paid the price when Terry snagged the ball, then made a determined run down the sideline, going 48 yards for the TD to make the score 13-0.
“It was a big momentum changer. It really helped us get things going,” Terry said. “I just caught it, and my teammates got in front of me.”
Stevens’ next two passes were picked off by DeSantis. He returned the first 31 yards to set up a 24-yard scoring run by Hannigan on the next play.
Hoaglund scored from 12 yards out to put the Bulldogs up 27-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The win now puts Palisade solidly in second place in the conference behind Delta. If Rifle beats Delta tonight, Palisade will take over first place in the WSC.
“Some of the guys are leaning toward Rifle,” Hannigan said with a smile. “But whatever happens happens. We just have to play our game.”
Palisade finishes its season at Moffat County.
Hannigan said the Bulldogs came out focused after the 31-21 loss to Delta last week.
“We had a good week of practice, and we focused on the little things that we didn’t do against Delta,” he said.
Eagle Valley (5-4, 3-4) played well for a stretch in the second quarter. The Devils’ defense stiffened and held the Bulldogs to a pair of field goals by Marques Combs of 35 and 28 yards.
Riley Rowles broke through the line on a third-and-short, then outran the Palisade secondary for a 73-yard TD to get the Devils on the scoreboard.
Every time the Devils appeared to be making progress in the first half, a turnover quickly ended any scoring opportunities, and the Bulldogs turned the miscue into points of their own.
With less than two minutes remaining in the half, Palisade forced a fumble, which set up a 16-yard scoring run by Hoaglund.
Things got worse two plays later for the Devils when Stevens tried to set up a screen pass. Campbell sniffed out the play and was in perfect position for the pick. He reached up and snagged the throw, broke a tackle and scored from 25 yards out.
With the running clock in the second half, the Devils showed flashes that they weren’t as bad as the score indicated. It also showed that without the five turnovers, the game would have been a lot closer.
Stevens led the Devils on a 54-yard drive and scored on a 3-yard run. Then, Victor Avila broke free on a 78-yard scoring run, and the Devils added another TD in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.
Hoaglund said the Bulldogs obviously will be interested in the Rifle-Delta game, but it’s really an example of how deep the conference is this season.
“I feel like we have a bunch of good teams (in the WSC),” he said. “Rifle and Delta are great teams, and hopefully, the best team wins.”
Thursday night’s game featured Palisade’s Joe Ramunno coaching against his older brother John Ramunno. This was just the fourth meeting between the two coaches, with Joe Ramunno now holding a 3-1 advantage.