Despite its offense taking some time to find its groove, the Palisade football team’s quest for a fifth straight Class 3A Western Slope Conference title is off to a smooth start.

The eighth-ranked Bulldogs (1-0) rode a smothering defense and a strong third quarter from their running game to dominate Evergreen 24-7 on the road Saturday.

The Palisade offense faced some struggles in the first half, but special teams and defense carried the Bulldogs to a 10-0 first-quarter lead. Rudolfo Dexter drilled a 38-yard field goal and on the next series, Kevin Sjogren returned a fumble 40 yards for Palisade’s first touchdown of the season.

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs’ offense began to assert themselves. On the first drive of the half, Nicholas Campbell broke free for a 45-yard touchdown run. Midway through the quarter, Julio Rodriguez capped the team’s scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run, putting the game out of reach at 24-0.

The Cougars’ only points came on a 70-yard punt return in the fourth quarter.

Fruita Monument 42, Wheat Ridge 10: The Wildcats (1-0) found themselves in an early 10-0 hole in the second quarter at Jeffco Stadium. From there, the contest was under their control.

Espin Hernandez scored three rushing touchdowns and Armony Trujillo also scored three touchdowns, two on the ground and one on a punt return. Fruita scored 21 points in the second quarter for a 21-10 halftime lead and scored its other 21 points in the fourth quarter to erase all doubt.

Delta 32, Bayfield 16: The top-ranked team in 2A didn’t start its season looking like the classification’s best squad, turning the ball over four times and trailing 16-0 into the second quarter.

Once the Panthers (1-0) found their footing, they were unstoppable, scoring the final 32 points of the non-conference game.

Senior quarterback Nolan Bynum completed 13 of 21 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. He added 55 yards and two scores on the ground. Despite two first-half fumbles, running back Tim Horn had 161 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, helping Delta wear out the Wolverines.

Horn’s 7-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes, 36 seconds to go until halftime finally got the Panthers on the scoreboard. Bynum hit Nathan Schamhorst for the two-point conversion.

Bynum scored a 10-yard rushing touchdown to open the second half, but Bayfield denied the two-point try. A 60-yard touchdown pass from Bynum to Colbi Braslin on the next possession gave the Panthers the lead for good. The two connected again on the two-point try, making it 22-16.

In the final quarter, another Bynum touchdown run and a 32-yard field goal by Juan Gaucin capped the comeback.

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