Waiting to strike
Palisade's second-quarter onslaught leads to rout
No one who watched the first quarter saw the second quarter coming.
Steamboat Springs did a lot of things right in the first 12 minutes Friday night and trailed undefeated Palisade only 7-0 heading into the second quarter.
Then, the Bulldogs, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, seized on every Steamboat mistake and piled up 35 points for a 42-0 halftime lead en route to a 56-0 win in a 3A Western Slope Conference football game at Stocker Stadium.
The Sailors (4-3, 3-3 WSC) responded to Palisade’s first touchdown with a 14-play drive that covered 68 yards, reached the Bulldogs’ 16-yard line and took seven minutes, 40 seconds off the clock. The effort went unrewarded, though, as Steamboat missed a 34-yard field-goal attempt.
Palisade (7-0, 5-0 WSC) proceeded to go 80 yards in four plays to take a 14-0 lead, and the Bulldogs played with a short field on their next two possessions, taking advantage of a blocked punt and fumble return to score on one-play drives of 15 and 3 yards for a 28-0 advantage.
The Sailors showed some fight, marching 76 yards in 14 plays with sophomore quarterback Zachary Holm doing much of the damage through the air, completing six passes for 56 yards. But they failed to score after getting a first down and goal to go at the Palisade 4-yard line.
Palisade then scored twice in the half’s final two minutes, marching 96 yards in seven plays for a TD, then intercepting a pass, which Tass Crow returned 40 yards for a touchdown.
That made it 42-0 at the half and brought the running clock in the second half.
The interception return was the third touchdown for Crow, who also caught touchdown passes of 15 and 21 yards from Palisade quarterback Levi Hoaglund.
The passing game saved Palisade one week earlier when the Bulldogs rallied to a 28-27 win over then-top-ranked Rifle. And Palisade coach Joe Ramunno has said his team is going to need to be able to throw the ball effectively to win games against better teams. But Crow said Friday night’s passes weren’t a matter of practicing that aspect.
“It’s not something we’re necessarily trying to force in,” said Crow, who caught all four of Hoaglund’s completions for 57 yards. “But it’s there. It’s something we can go to if we need to.”
Although the game turned into a rout, Ramunno credited Steamboat for doing some things well and making the Bulldogs earn some of their points.
The easy win might have been somewhat welcome after back-to-back battles to beat Durango 28-21, then Rifle.
But Ramunno sounded like a coach who’d prefer to see his players continue to get tested in preparation for the postseason.
“It’s catch-22,” Ramunno said. “It was fun for our guys and stuff, but we know we have to go to Delta next week, and we’re going to have a tough task there.”
Palisade finished with 347 total yards to the Sailors’ 191. Hoaglund ran for 105 yards on six carries, all in the first half, and Dalton Hannigan added 76 yards rushing on six carries for the Bulldogs.