Going fourth

Fourth-quarter scoring helps Palisade pull away from Delta

Palisade quarterback P.D. Riddle breaks a tackle to score one of his three rushing touchdowns Thursday night in the Bulldogs’ 41-17 victory over Delta at Stocker Stadium. Riddle ran for 137 yards and passed for 138 more yards and one touchdown. Riddle’s eight completions were a season high.

Delta’s Beau Byers intercepts a pass intended for Palisade’s Stephen Leonard on Thursday night in the Panthers’ 41-17 loss at Stocker Stadium. In addition to his pick, Byers had three catches for 37 yards.

Palisade quarterback P.D. Riddle completed a season-high eight passes for 138 yards yards and a touchdown Thursday night in the Bulldogs’ 41-17 victory over Delta at Stocker Stadium. Riddle also ran for 137 yards and three TDs in the win.


PATRIOTISM on display

With all the controversy surrounding some NFL players and other athletes kneeling in protest during the national anthem, the Palisade High School football team went in a different direction Thursday night before its game against Delta.

The Bulldogs walked on the field escorting local police officers, some who had served in both Delta and Palisade, as two players waved large American flags.

Palisade Athletic Director Gregg Hawkins said Austin Bernal and Stephen Leonard, two players who have family members on active duty in the military, carried the flags. The team, led by its four captains, walked to the sideline with a dozen or so police officers.

“Just with the negativity that’s been going on with the national anthem and the police, we just wanted to talk to the kids about the meaning of the national anthem and what it means to police, the military and all of that,” Hawkins said. The gesture actually started Wednesday night during a team dinner, when the Bulldogs watched a video on “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the meaning behind the song.

After that, Ray Robinson, a war veteran from Grand Junction, spoke to the team.

“It’s awesome to see that,” Palisade coach Joe Ramunno said. “I have so much pride in these kids and our athletic director. Mr. Hawkins did a great job setting this up. We did a history lesson on the national anthem and the flag and what it all represents. We had a veteran who came to talk with us last night about what the flag means to him and what it represents, so I wanted to really stress that to our kids because it’s so important.”

— Matt Meyer

It still felt like a rivalry game Thursday for the Palisade High School football game. It was still Delta, once a perennial power in the Class 3A Western Slope Conference.

For the first three quarters, the score even reflected a rivalry game, but the Bulldogs pulled away with 20 fourth-quarter points to win 41-17.

“They’ve been very good,” Palisade coach Joe Ramunno said of Delta. “We were fortunate to get a win today. Our kids responded and played well in the second half.”

The Panthers (2-2) dropped to Class 2A this year after winning the past four games against the Bulldogs (4-1), but Palisade struck first at Stocker Stadium.

Quarterback P.D. Riddle opened the scoring with two rushing touchdowns, slashing in from 1 yard out on the Bulldogs’ first drive and lunging in after a 10-yard run for the second score for a 14-0 lead. Palisade’s second drive was set up by an interception by Miguel Quintana.

Delta cut into the deficit early in the second quarter after the Panthers forced a fumble as they pulled Riddle to the turf. Delta started at Palisade’s 26-yard line, but settled for a 29-yard field goal from A.B. Ontiveros.

After that, Palisade extended its third drive on a fake punt. Isaac Maestas took off on the left side of the field on fourth-and-15, diving for the first-down marker and the conversion.

Still, Delta held strong and later Tristan Brown hammered in a 1-yard touchdown 38.4 seconds before halftime.

Riddle had four completions in the first half, matching his single-game season high this year, and the Bulldogs didn’t stop throwing in the second half.

A handful of bubble screens to Prescott Price, routes over the middle to Austin Bernal, and at least two attempts to tight end Daniel McLean on a seam route kept the Bulldogs marching throughout the game.

Palisade went up 21-10 with 6:14 left in the third quarter, capped by Riddle’s 2-yard touchdown run, but Delta threw a counterpunch almost immediately after the score.

Damon Jensen broke off an incredible 64-yard touchdown run, shedding numerous tackles before finally shaking free down the west sideline for the score. The senior, who came into the game as the state’s leading rusher, rushed for 108 yards on 18 carries.

Beau Byers then picked off Riddle on an under-thrown pass, but Delta couldn’t get anything going offensively. Maestas had his second successful fake punt to extend a drive right before the end of the third quarter.

Delta coach Ben Johnson said he felt like his team was in the game through three quarters, but Palisade’s offense kept chugging along.

“Palisade went on a very methodical drive, did a lot of things well, and we didn’t answer,” Johnson said. “We didn’t do things so well after that and it was game over.”

The Bulldogs came up with three more interceptions and worked with shorter fields to close out the game. Quintana and Bernal had two picks each.

“I don’t think we normally would have done that,” Johnson said. “But we were working to get points fast against a very good team that was playing very well.”

Riddle finished with 137 yards rushing and Tanner Pratt, who scored the final TD on a 47-yard run, finished with 109 yards for the Bulldogs.


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