Indians ride running of Rocha, Wright to victory over Delta
MONTROSE — Montrose High School possessed the ball for most of the third quarter and had an 80-yard touchdown drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock late in the game to beat Class 3A’s top-ranked team, Delta, 28-21 in nonconference football Friday.
Montrose, ranked No. 2 in the Class 4A Associated Press poll, had an opportunity to put the game away with a 28-14 lead and six minutes remaining when defensive back Dylan Atwood intercepted a halfback pass.
Looking to chew up more clock, the Indians fed the ball to Mike Rocha and Dalton Wright. Montrose plowed forward more than 30 yards, across midfield, until Rocha fumbled, and Delta recovered.
Delta’s Cade Gafford orchestrated a two-minute aerial attack, moving more than 60 yards, capped by a diving score from fullback Easton Byers.
Delta attempted an onside kick, but Montrose recovered.
“Everything went exactly to plan, except for the fumble,” Montrose coach Todd Casebier said. “We can’t turn the ball over in that situation. We go from probably being up 35-14 and feeling good, to having to recover an onside kick and winning by a touchdown.
“We need to finish games. Mike’s a good player, and he carries the mail for us, but we can’t have a fumble in that situation.”
Despite the ill-timed fumble, Rocha finished with two touchdowns. Midway through the first quarter, he opened the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run, the last of six consecutive handoffs he was given.
Quarterback Kam DeVincentis added a scramble from five yards out to put Montrose up 14-0 with 7:33 left in the half.
That’s when Delta and Gafford’s luck shifted.
Until that point, Gafford was 1 of 16 passing, and the Panthers had dropped seven passes.
But thanks to big runs by Jonny Ponce, Gafford was set up for a short pass near the end zone.
Gafford hit Tristan Brown for an eight-yard touchdown with less than four minutes left in the half. Delta forced Montrose into a three-and-out, aided by a holding penalty against the Indians.
During the punt attempt, Delta sophomore Damon Jensen shot through the Montrose line and deflected the ball upward. Byers pulled it down for the Panthers.
Starting at the Montrose 25 yard-line with just more than two minutes left in the half, Gafford completed a pass across the middle for a gain, pushed further by a helmet-to-helmet contact penalty. Then Ponce scampered in for a nine-yard touchdown before halftime, tying it 14-14.
Gafford completed six of 26 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers dropped nine passes.
“We’re still inconsistent catching the ball,” Delta coach Ben Johnson said. “There were plenty of plays to be made out there. Receivers just aren’t catching the ball.”
Montrose chewed up clock in the third quarter, capping a long drive with a two-yard touchdown run from Rocha with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Ponce started Delta’s next possession with a 35-yard run — pushed further up the field by a horse-collar penalty — but he fumbled on the next play, and Montrose recovered.
“Kam and Dalton did a great job for us tonight,” Casebier said. “The holes were there for Dalton last week, but this week he did a good job making one cut and heading up the field. Kam has been able to keep defenses off balance. He made some great passes and a couple great runs for us tonight.”