DELTA — Any lingering fears of postseason nerves for the Delta High School football team were squashed in only two plays Saturday.
On the first play of the game, quarterback Nolan Bynum found Hunter Hughes on a deep pass for 35 yards.
On the next play, Bynum connected with Gauge Lockhart for an easy 25-yard score 20 seconds into the game.
Fourth-seeded Delta's dominant defense did its usual deeds from there and the offense continued to click as the Panthers cruised past Pagosa Springs 44-0 on Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.
"(That first drive) just shot our confidence right up," Bynum said. "After that, everything, for the most part, went smoothly. Everybody was energized and ready to go and play smashmouth football."
After Bynum's hot start, Delta (9-1) began to lean on running back Ku La Moo.
He gained 18 yards on his first carry of the game, the first play of the Panthers' second drive. He finished the drive by making a 31-yard field goal from the right hashmark, increasing the lead to 10-0 with 4:55 left in the first quarter.
Moo didn't impact the scoreboard beyond his kick, but he was one of the key pieces for Delta in the win. He ran 15 times for 197 yards with eight of his carries going for double-digit yards.
"The offense and defense were really good," Moo said. "It gives me confidence when my line is really good at their job and they just execute. It helps me do my job, too."
As has been the case this season, Delta's defense swarmed.
The Panthers limited Pagosa Springs (5-5) to 104 yards of total offense in registering their sixth shutout of the season. They also got in on the scoring themselves.
On the first play after Moo's field goal, Pirates quarterback Grant Aucoin pitched the football left to Dustin Clark. Clark dropped the ball, however, and Delta's Colbi Braslin scooped it up around the Pagosa Springs 30-yard line.
From there, there was nobody to stop him from rumbling into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season.
"I was just kind of looking for a pass route, but then I saw the ball on the ground and took it to the house," Braslin said. "It's not (common) at all… It feels good. Really good."
Timmy Horn powered into the end zone from 1 yard out with 4:38 to go in the first half and Bynum added an 11-yard burst up the middle 3 minutes later as the Panthers took a 31-0 lead into the locker room.
Bynum added a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter, one a 9-yard pass to Hughes and the other a 10-yard run, to trigger the running clock for the remainder of the game.
Bynum finished 13 of 17 for 167 yards, two touchdowns and one interception to go along with 31 yards and two touchdowns on five runs.
Hughes and Lockhart hauled in 81 and 51 yards receiving, respectively.
"We found the holes in their defense like we planned it," Bynum said.
The Panthers will host fifth-seeded Faith Christian next week in the quarterfinals. The Eagles defeated Elizabeth 8-0 in the first round Saturday.