GLENWOOD SPRINGS (9/23/11) – Having been shut out 89-0 in its last two games, for the young Glenwood Springs football team to hope for a victory over number-one ranked Palisade in its Western Slope League opener didn’t seem very realistic.
Yet, despite three turnovers that led to first half Bulldog scores and a 28-6 deficit with nearly 10 minutes to go in the second quarter, the determined Demons found themselves with two golden opportunities to tie or go ahead in the fourth quarter before eventually falling, 31-21 Friday at Stubler Memorial Field.
Unfortunately for the 1-3 Demons (0-1 WSL), their offense, which had performed so well in drawing within seven points of Palisade (4-0, 1-0), could not manage a first down despite back-to-back fourth-period possessions that started near midfield.
Following a Glenwood punt from its own 46-yard-line, the Bulldogs took over on their 26 with 4:56 left in the game and reasserted control. With back-up quarterback Daniel Sanchez finally executing the offense in relief of injured starter Luke McLean, Palisade drove to the Demon 7 yard line, where Spencer Jackson\’s 24-yard field goal put the game out of reach , 31-21, with 36 seconds remaining.
The key play in the drive came on 2nd-and-8 at the Palisade 47 when leading rusher Ronald Kuntz, who inexplicably hadn\’t carried the ball since gaining 45 yards on 9 first-half carries, broke through the right side for 27 yards to the Demon 26. A moment later Kuntz went through the left side on 2nd-and-6 for another first down to the 15.
The Demons took advantage of a Kuntz fumbled punt at the Palisade 22 to score first when Jon Forristall completed a third-down pass to Cam Avery to the 11 and Henry Hill finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown. The extra point kick was wide, but Glenwood, which hadn\’t scored since its opening win over Basalt, led 6-0 with 8:16 remaining in the first quarter.
Fortunes turned quickly as McLean threw a hitch pass to Caden Woods that turned into a 56 yard touchdown and Jackson\’s extra point put Palisade up 7-6 with 6:38 to go in the period. An onside kick recovered by the Bulldogs at the Demon 34 resulted in another speedy score, this time, McLean connecting with Lane Orman from the 23.
After an exchange of punts, Forristall was intercepted by JT Townsend at the Glenwood 20, and three plays later Kuntz took a pitch around right end 19 yards for a 21-6 Palisade lead with 1:38 left in the quarter.
The subsequent possessions by each team would prove decisive in the Demons\’ upset attempt. Forristall completed a shovel pass to Michael Mills for a first down, then a screen to Hill for 22 yards into Bulldog territory. The sophomore Hill, in his first season as a running back, moved the ball to the Palisade 28 in two carries before fumbling a pitch that was recovered by the Bulldogs
McLean, who is the Bulldogs\’ second-leading rusher, went 12 yards to midfield on the last play of the first quarter, but was replaced by Salazar after the quarter break. He warmed up with the team after halftime, but was wearing a wrap on his right, throwing hand.
Salazar, a senior listed as a tight end on the Palisade roster, drove the Bulldogs 63 yards in nine plays and scored from the 8 with nearly ten minutes left in the half for a 28-6 lead. The key play in the drive was a 3rd-and-14 pass that popped out of Kuntz\’s hands at midfield but was tipped to Woods who gained 15 yards to the Glenwood 40.
Trailing by 22, Forristall completed three passes for a first down but the drive stalled at the Bulldog 35 after a procedure penalty. Hill\’s punt pinned Palisade inside their 5 and a quick kick on third down was returned by Mills to the 45. A roughing the passer call against Forristall moved the ball to the Bulldog 30 and Glenwood overcame a holding call when Austin Tribble\’s downfield block helped spring Hill for a 21-yard score on 4th-and -one. Forristall completed a 2-point conversion pass to Tribble, making the score 28-14 at halftime.
Rigo Garcia stopped Townsend on a 4th-down sweep, after halftime, but back-to-back penalties stopped Glenwood\’s momentum. Justin Barham had the key defensive play on the next series and with Hill going 21 yards on 3 carries the Demons reached the Bulldog 6 yard line. A holding call made it 1st-and-goal from the 17. A pass to Tribble reached the three, and Forristall went under center at 4th-and-one for the touchdown. Wiehan Pretorius booted the extra point drawing Glenwood within seven with 33 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Garcia registered his second sack of Salazar, forcing and recovering his fumble at 9:44 of the fourth at the Glenwood 45, but the offense could gain just 3 yards and Hill\’s punt rolled to the Bulldog 15. Barham sacked Salazar, forcing a poor punt that went out of bounds at the Demon 49. With another chance to drive for the tie or win, a shovel pass was stopped for no gain, Hill lost 3 on a sweep and a third-down pass was overthrown. That would be Glenwood\’s last look at the game, as Palisade consumed all but 35 seconds of the remaining time on its field goal drive.
Forristall was 15-of-28 for 134 yards and Hill carried 24 times for 103 yards for Glenwood, Tribble led the receivers with 4 catches for 58 yards. Kuntz gained 89 yards on 7 carries to lead the Bulldog attack.
Glenwood draws a dangerous homecoming opponent next Friday when the Battle Mountain Huskies (3-1) undefeated until a last-second 22-21 loss to Rifle come to town.