The collective sigh from the Panther fans quickly turned to cheers as they watched the ball sail through the hands of Glenwood Springs defender and into the arms of a soaring Chris Black (2). Delta was in Cortez last week and recorded a 48-20 win.
Delta's Panthers made the trip south to Cortez for a football battle of the cats. Delta was the more aggressive, and productive, as they improved their season records to 3-1 in league and 4-2 overall with a 48-20 win.
Rifle, after blowing up Palisade over the weekend, is at the top of league standings with their 5-0 and 6-0 marks. Palisade, with just one loss on the season, is second at 3-1 and 5-1 with Eagle Valley who has the same records. The Panthers are fourth and Steamboat Springs is fifth with a 2-3 and 2-4 slate.
Glenwood Springs, Moffat County, Cortez, and Battle Mountain complete the list of teams rated sixth through nine.
Delta scored first in Cortez on a Robert Williams' five-yard run early in the opening quarter. Alex Quintero booted the extra point for a Delta 7-0 lead.
Cortez put up six with about three minutes left in the first period on a two-yard run. The extra point attempt failed leaving the visiting Panthers on top 7-6.
Williams scored the second of his three touchdowns in the second quarter from five yards out. The extra point by Quintero made it 14-6 Delta with about nine minutes left before halftime.
Neither team scored again in the opening half of play.
Delta opened the second half with a kick to Cortez. The host Panthers failed to move the ball and gave it back to Delta.
Williams' third TD came on a four-yard run and with Quintero's PAT, Delta owned a 21-6 lead with nearly nine minutes left in the third frame.
Delta put up a quick six on a defensive play but missed its extra point to go up 27-6 near the eight minute mark of the third quarter.
Cortez put together a scoring drive on its next series of downs. John Walck hit Tallon Ralstin with a 20-yard touchdown pass. Alex Lopez kicked the extra point cutting Delta's lead to 27-13.
Delta struck for a third score in the waning moments of the third when Mitch Whiteside found Chris Black for a 73-yard catch and run play. Quintero's kick was good to give Delta a commanding 34-13 lead at the five minute mark.
Zach Decker got into the scoring act with a nine-yard run early in the fourth quarter. With the PAT, Delta was cruising with a lead of 41-13.
Delta tacked on one last touchdown in the fourth quarter. Hunter Brasfield punched the ball in from one-yard out and Quintero's kick made it 48-13 with nearly five minutes to go in the game.
Cortez found enough offense late in the game and scored on a 16-yard pass play with about four minutes left in the game. Lopez kicked the extra point to make the final score 48-20.
Offensively, Delta racked up 203 yards through the air and rolled to 392 yards on the ground. Mitch Whiteside was nine for 15 in the passing game for 193 yards and a touchdown. Cade Gafford was one for two and 10 yards.
Decker's 151 yards on 19 carries topped the Panthers ground game. Backup running back Derek Horn toted the pigskin 10 times for 87 yards while Williams picked up 82 yards on 10 carries.
Black caught three passes for 138 yards and a score and Doug Hawkins had 40 yards on two receptions.
Cortez's Walck was 12 of 26 throwing the ball and collected 157 yards of his team's 314 total yards. Lopez was the top Cortez receiver with six catches for 51 yards.
Walck was also the top ground-gainer for Cortez with 59 yards on eight carries.
Delta will host its homecoming game with Battle Mountain's Huskies this Friday. Kickoff has been scheduled for 7 p.m.