Palisade rolls past No. 5 Moffat County

Palisade High School’s Sean Dunn, right, runs back a pass that he has just intercepted with Moffat County’s Brady Conner in pursuit during the first half of Friday’s homecoming game at Stocker Stadium.

Palisade’s defense was immovable when it counted.

Friday night at Stocker Stadium, Palisade (3-2, 3-0 Western Slope Conference) gave up more than 200 yards rushing and 14 first downs to Moffat County, but allowed only six points in the Bulldogs’ 34-6 win.

The key was Palisade tightening up once Moffat County (3-1, 2-1 WSC) approached the red zone.

“The intensity steps up when they start to get to that area,” Palisade defensive end Rasjon Buford said. “Everyone plays harder.”

Moffat County running backs Pablo Salcido and Nathan Tomlin were able to find seams in the Palisade defense, combining for 186 yards.

“They had a couple of good running backs and blocked well,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “But our kids were physical.”

Palisade’s physical nature helped cause four Moffat County turnovers, including one on its first series when Nick Stephanus recovered a fumble at midfield. 

After Jesse Brannon returned a Moffat County punt 20 yards to the Moffat 36-yard line,
Sean Dunn capped the six-play drive with an 8-yard run to give Palisade a 7-0 lead.

Moffat County put together a 15-play drive, but stalled at Palisade’s 26-yard line when quarterback Matt Linsacum’s fourth-down pass was incomplete.

Palisade scored on the next play when Brannon took the ball on a pitch and raced 75 yards for a touchdown.

“I saw a big hole open and I hit it hard,” Brannon said. “I saw the end zone, and nothing was going to stop me.”

Moffat County responded on its next drive, taking the ball 75 yards on 10 plays, with Salcido scoring on a 1-yard run.

On the ensuing kickoff, Buford fumbled at Moffat County’s 45-yard line after a 30-yard return.

Moffat County began to drive the ball working it to the Palisade 30-yard line. On first down, Moffat County got away from its inside running game when Linsacum rolled out for a pass. Feeling the pressure, Linsacum threw across the field, where Dunn was waiting for the interception.

Taking over with 1:30 left before half, Palisade put together a drive that featured two big passes from Jordan Salazar to Kelly Davis. Brannon punched it in from the 4-yard line to give Palisade a 21-6 lead at halftime.

“It was very important to score there,” Brannon said. “That was getting them out of the game and getting the momentum on our side.”

In the second half, Dunn scored midway through the third quarter to give the Bulldogs a 28-6 lead. With the cushion, the Palisade defense tightened and forced three punts and another Linsacum interception.

Despite Moffat County entering the game ranked No. 5 in the MaxPreps/Colorado
Coaches Association poll, Palisade controlled the game with Brannon rushing for 162 yards and Dunn 74.

“Rankings don’t mean anything,” Arledge said. “I liked our efforts, and in the end, it doesn’t matter what you are ranked.”

Rankings might be arbitrary, but the Bulldogs’ next opponent is top-ranked Steamboat Springs, which defeated Eagle Valley 42-12 on Friday night.

“Steamboat is a good team and they have a quarterback (Austin Hinder) that can zing it further than most kids can even imagine throwing,” Arledge said.

“So we are going to have to contain him, play hard and it will come down to what our line can do.”


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