Delta noseguard Alfredo Rosales (24) makes the first hit on Eagle Valley’s Ayren Hart behind the line of scrimmage during last week’s 3A WSL matchup. To Rosales’ right is teammate Jasiel Garcia with Saul Sanchez (10) and Kyle Collins (54) moving in to help put Hart to the ground. Delta trailed 21-6 at halftime but roared back in the second half to score a 25-21 victory.
Delta, 2-1 and 1-0, in 3A WSL football standings, had its hands full with the visiting Eagle Valley Devils last Friday. The Panthers lost four fumbles during the game but managed to rally for a second-half comeback and a 25-21 win in WSL play.
Eagle Valley rocked the Panthers, and their fans, with an 87-yard touchdown on the game's opening kickoff. Cole Nielsen took the initial kickoff from Jonney Ponce and twisted his way through the Delta defenders to score the game's first touchdown with 11:46 left in the period. Travis Edgar booted the extra point to make Eagle Valley's lead 7-0.
A fumble on Delta's first possession gave the ball right back to the Devils. Eagle Valley could get no closer than the Panthers' 29 in their next two possessions and the first quarter score was 7-0.
Delta, operating on a series of downs originating in the first quarter from its own 34, scored with 10:28 left in the second stanza on a 21-yard pass from Mitch Whiteside to Chris Black. Ponce's PAT kick was no good and Eagle Valley held a 7-6 lead.
On the Devil's next possession, quarterback Jordan Hudspeth tossed a nine-yard scoring strike to Zeke Sandoval with 5:42 left before halftime. The 13-play drive culminated with Edgar's PAT kick to make the score 14-6.
Later in the second quarter, Eagle Valley scored from the one on Cody Thurston's run with 6.9 left before the half. The Edgar kick made it 21-6 at the break.
Delta got its second touchdown of the game at the 5:55 mark of the third period when Black collected a 26-yard scoring strike from Mitchell Whiteside. The 10-play scoring drive covered 62 yards. Ponce kicked the extra point to make the score 21-13.
The Panther's second possession of the period resulted in an 11-play drive that covered 82 yards and a Robert Williams four-yard plunge. A two-point conversion attempt failed to leave Eagle Valley ahead 21-19 with 21.9 left in the third frame.
On Delta's second possession of the fourth quarter, the Panthers moved the ball 89 yards in 10 plays with Williams bulling his way into the end zone from five yards out. A two-point conversion failed again and Delta was ahead for the first time at 25-21 with 1:27 left in the game.
Delta's defense stymied the Devils the rest of the way to hold on for a 3A WSL win.
Mitchell Whiteside was 11 for 19 in the passing department for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Black was Whiteside's go-to player with nine catches for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Ryan Whiteside hauled in two of his brother's aerials for 59 yards.
On the ground, Delta used a two-pronged running attack with Williams getting the bulk of the load with 29 carries and 101 yards. Mitchell Whiteside used the option well to collect 48 yards on 18 carries.
Cole Nielsen was Eagle Valley's leading ground-gainer with 48 yards on 13 carries.
Eagle Valley finished with 96 yards on the ground and another 77 through the air for a total of 173. Delta had 149 yards on the ground and 203 through the air for a total of 352 yards.
Black commented on what the win meant for the team. "It means we kept on fighting as a team and were not going to give up. It was an important win for us."
Head coach Ben Johnson was also pleased with his team's efforts. "It was a good win for us, but we still have some things to work on. We turned the ball over too many times and our execution was not as good as it could be."
Rifle and Palisade are atop the tough 3A WSL standings with 2-0 league marks and 3-0 overall. Delta is in third place with its 1-0 league and 2-1 overall records.
Delta is in Craig to face Moffat County's Bulldogs (1-1 and 2-1) on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m.