DELTA (9/28/12) – Auston Tribble did his kickoff return thing for the third time this season, Henry Hill, in his words began “running downhill” in the second half, and an interception that wasn't turned a tight, playoff-style game into a 41-20 Glenwood Springs runaway as the Demons handed Delta its first league loss.
With the first two playoff spots presumably all but delivered to Glenwood's first two league opponents, Rifle and Palisade, in the fourth week of Western Slope play, the 1-2 Demons' trip to Delta took on post-season importance. So when the Panthers marched 80 yards in 15 plays after the opening kickoff, consuming almost 8 minutes in taking a 6-0 lead, followed by a 3-and-out GSHS possession, the outlook was nearly as dim as the lighting at Panther Stadium.
But Cristian Gonzalez sacked Mitchell Whiteside, who had gone 3-for-3 for 41 yards including shedding a tackler to make a 12-yard touchdown toss capping that opening drive. Glenwood put together 14 plays, but three penalities derailed the threat, which died on downs at the Panther 15.
Whiteside completed three passes for first downs, getting to midfield, but another sack, this time by Justin Barham, forced Delta to punt, and Glenwood used the final 2:39 in the half to go 75 yards for the tyingh score. Travis Lundin completed 7 straight passes to get the Demons to Delta's 12, then he scrambled left, cut up the middle where he appeared stopped at the five, but burst out of a pack of would-be tacklers to reach the end zone with 39 seconds left in the second quarter. Both teams' placekickers missed their point-afters, so the score was deadlocked at 6.
The game — and possibly each team's playoff fortunes — turned in a bizzare third quarter that began spectacularly with Tribble's third kickoff return for a touchdown, this one going 86 yards for a 13-0 Glenwood lead 14 seconds into the period.
The Glenwood defense forced another Delta punt after yielding one first down, but another penalty and a fourth-and-three that failed was followed by an 8-play, 62-yard scoring drive by Delta, all on the ground except for a 28 yard Whitside completion to Chris Black, who had scored the first Delta touchown.
With the score tied at 13 and 3:20 left in the third quarter, the momentum changed for good when Cordell Stroud's interception and return to the Glenwood 30 was wiped out by a roughing the passer penalty against Delta. Given a reprieve, Lundin handed the ball to Hill four straight times and the Panthers' self-destructed with another unsportsmanlike penalty and defensive encroachment at the 5 yard line.
Hill, who missed the first two games of the season recovering from off-season neck surgery, had just 5 carries for 21 in the first half, but asserted himself in the third period, gaining 60 yards on 10 carries including the two-yard touchdown that gave Glenwood the lead for good, 19-13 with 1:29 left in the third.
It was all Glenwood in the final frame as the Demons used a 50 yard TD run by Hill and a pair of Delta turnovers to extend the lead to 41-13, at which point coach Rocky Whitworth pulled many of the starters with 8 minutes left in the game.
Hill, who broke out with 175 yards and 3 TD's last week against Steamboat, finished with 167 yards and 2 scores in Delta. Lundin's streak of 4 straight games with an interception ended, thanks to the third-quarter penalty, and instead he completed a phenomenal 12-of-15 passes for 95 yards and also ran for two touchdowns.
Next week, Glenwood (2-3, 2-2 WSL) faces another playoff contender, hosting the Eagle Valley Devils (4-1, 2-1), 48-14 winners over Moffat County.