GLENWOOD SPRINGS(9-27-13) — An extended halftime is not unexpected in a homecoming game, and lightning added another 30 minute delay, but neither rain nor a vaunted Delta passing game could keep Glenwood from its second straight league win, 15-7, over the ninth-ranked Panthers.
After the weather dampened the homecoming festivities during intermission, the Panthers threatened to write an unhappy ending when they opened the third quarter with a 70 yard scoring drive to trim the Demon lead to 9-7. All but two yards came on the ground as a wet football and aggressive defense limited Delta’s 6-6 junior quarterback Cade Gafford’s confidence and production. Gafford had completed 64% of his passes for 718 yards and 11 touchdowns while Delta (3-2, 2-1 WSL) won three of its first four games, losing only to 4A Montrose, 38-24.
But at halftime Gafford had only 13 yards passing, so Delta turned to sophomore Jonny Pounce, who gained 60 of the 70 yards, scoring when Gafford fumbled into the end zone, and the Panthers recovered for a touchdown to trail 9-7.
Glenwood consumed the first 5 minutes of the game with a similar scoring drive as Henry Hill and Derrick Chase rushed for all 69 yards. Chase got into the end zone from the one for his fourth straight game with a touchdown. But the wet conditions contributed to a missed extra point kick by Robert Hiles, and Glenwood led 6-0.
Gafford showed his arm strength on Delta’s first possession, after three running first-downs moved the ball to the Demon 47. He launched a rain-inducing parabola and the 6-3 Ryan Whiteside made a leaping catch that appeared to be a touchdown, but was ruled out of bounds. Delta inexplicably ran Pounce up the middle on the next play, forcing a 4th-and-4 punt from the 40.
Hill and Chase, who each had over 70 yards rushing at halftime, responded by driving the Demons to the 15, before Hiles was called upon for a 32-yard field goal. The kick just dropped over the cross bar, making him 3-of-4 on 3-point tries this season, for a 9-0 lead with 7:49 to go in the second quarter.
Delta, again relying on the ground game, picked up a pair of first downs, reaching midfield before Garrett Lowe decisively sacked Gafford, forcing a punt, and Glenwood retained its shutout at halftime.
After Delta cut the Demon lead to two points with its scoring drive to open the third, the teams twice exchanged punts before Hill exploded for 22 yards across midfield as the quarter wound down.
Travis Lundin began the final period throwing a strike to Evrett Marr for 15 yards to the Delta 32, and Hill followed Lowe and Colton Vail over the right side for 11 more. Hill got around right end for 12 yards on the next play to set up Chase’s two-yard plunge for a 15-7 lead with 10:02 to go.
Following another exchange of punts, Dante Sparaco’s 4th-down sack of Gafford at the Delta 27 seemed to sew up the outcome. Delta used all three of its timeouts, but after Hill moved the ball to the 18, Lundin lost 4 on a keeper, then fumbled the fourth down snap, leaving Gafford and the Panthers 1:55 on the clock for a possible game-tying drive.
The Delta QB was just 4-of-13 for 15 yards at that point, but suddenly found the range, connecting with Whiteside for 20 yards and deep-threat Devin Williams (averaging 20 yards per catch, but without a reception through 3 quarters) for 11 to get to the Demon 28 with under a minute to play.
After a first down to the 19 and a spiked incompletion with 12 seconds remaining, the soggy homecoming crowd tensed as Gafford lofted the ball toward Williams in the left corner of the end zone. Marr tipped the pass away bringing up 4th and 2, still at the 19, with time for one more play. It was anticlimactic, as Gafford fumbled the snap, allowing Glenwood to run out the final 4 seconds.
Hill finished with 176 yards on 31 carries, making a prophet of coach Rocky Whitworth, who said in a pre-game interview the Demons would get on his back for a Delta team the coach said, “could be as good as anyone we’ve played.” And this, after three opening losses to top ten-ranked Conifer, Palisade, and Rifle.
Chase had his second straight productive rushing game, gaining 85 yards in 13 attempts to go with the two TDs. Lundin, didn’t throw much but was a perfect 3-for-3 for 39 yards, making it two straight games without an interception after throwing 6 picks in Glenwood’s three losses.
Gafford completed just 8-of-21 passes for 58 yards with Glenwood dominating on the rain-soaked ground, 247 yards (in 49 carries) to 131 for Delta.
Glenwood, now 2-2 in the Western Slope (2-4 overall) will travel to Gypsum to face Eagle Valley (4-1, 2-1), whose only loss this season was 35-14 to Delta.