Full of pride: Second-half TDs lift Palisade past Central in opener

Palisade High School quarterback Luke McLean pitches the ball back to running back J.T. Townsend, left, during the first half of the Bulldogs’ victory Friday night over the Warriors at Stocker Stadium.

Central High School quarterback Taylor Sanchez, right, loses his footing after being knocked off balance Friday night by Palisade’s Caden Woods, left, during the first half of the Bulldogs’ victory at Stocker Stadium.

Palisade High School’s football team had a lot it wanted to prove.

The Bulldogs proved their toughness Friday night, and that their victory over Central last season wasn’t a fluke.

For the second consecutive season, Palisade defeated Central in the season opener for both teams at Stocker Stadium.

The sixth-ranked Bulldogs rallied to score two second-half touchdowns for a 24-12 victory in front of an estimated 2,000 fans.

“They came out and wanted to fight and win because we beat them last year,” Palisade senior Ronald Kuntz said. “We rose to the challenge and played with pride.”

Kuntz led the way, carrying the ball 12 times for 136 yards and one touchdown. The Bulldogs rushed for 363 yards and had 417 yards in total offense.

“We have a little bit of pride,” Palisade senior Daniel Salazar said. “We want to think we’re tougher than anybody else and we got to show it.”

Palisade took an early 8-0 lead on Kuntz’ 3-yard run and Luke McLean’s two-point conversion run.

Penalties and turnovers allowed Central to take a 12-8 halftime lead.

Central’s Orion Campbell recovered a fumble near midfield. A few plays later, quarterback Taylor Sanchez completed a 23-yard pass to Joshua Weller for a touchdown. The Warriors attempted a kick on the PAT, but bobbled the snap and trailed 8-6.

Central’s Dylan Johnson intercepted McLean on Palisade’s next possession, setting up a Sanchez 3-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rowe.

Palisade cleaned up its mistakes in the second half, turning the ball over once in the second half and only had one penalty after the Bulldogs had six for 65 yards in the first half.

“We pride our kids on being disciplined,” Arledge said. “We had a couple penalties that were tough, like that late hit.

“We went back to being physical in the box. Our running backs did well. The first half we gave them two turnovers, that’s how they scored. The second half was our kind of football. They made the one big play.”

Salazar recovered a fumble deep in Central territory and the Bulldogs took advantage, with McLean scoring on a 1-yard run. JT Townsend ran in the conversion for a 16-12 lead.

The Bulldogs scored again thanks to Lane Orman’s 34-yard reception on fourth-and-7. Orman reached out in front of the defender, catching the ball in stride.

“I was going 100 percent,” Orman said. “That’s what you get when you go 100 percent. We work harder than anybody else. We bust our butt every day. It feels good when it pays off.”

McLean and Orman connected twice for 54 yards.

“The fourth-down play, we knew no one was back (to kick),” Central coach Vern McGee said. “We knew they’d fake it and they got it.”

Two plays later, Quinn Zamora scored on a 2-yard run. McLean ran in the conversion.

Central’s Taylor Sanchez completed 11 of 22 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice.


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