Photo by Wayne Crick Delta’s Hunter Brasfield (5) keeps to the outside shoulder of a defender in an attempt to turn Rifle’s Kellin Leigh back toward the middle of the Panther defense. Rifle survived a determined Delta effort to remain undefeated with a 21-0 victory.Excitement was high with the Delta Panthers taking on Rifle's Bears in 3A WSL play. The connotations for Delta were a bit higher than for Rifle should the Panthers win.
After knocking off Palisade a week ago, the Panthers believed they could pull off their second straight upset in as many weeks. Rifle had other ideas, however, and held on to score a 21-0 win.
Rifle, the state's number one ranked team, did not have an easy time posting its seventh WSL win and ninth overall win against no losses.
Delta did everything possible to help the Bears; from turnovers to mistakes on penalties that kept drives alive. The opening drive of the game was going well for the Panthers until an errant pass from Mitch Whiteside was intercepted by Rifle's Aaron Wagler at the Bears' 35-yard line.
Rifle took the ball 65 yards on nine plays to score the game's first touchdown on a two-yard run by Ryan Moeller. A PAT kick by Marcos Gutierrez made it 7-0 with 2:49 left in the first quarter.
Moeller, who had scored five touchdowns in three different games this season, was held to that first-quarter score.
Delta, trailing 7-0 in the second period, had a drive going that began on the Panthers' 37 and had moved to the Bears' five. Two straight procedure penalties moved the ball back to the 15 where the drive stalled. A 25-yard field goal attempt by Alex Quintero was no good, thwarting a great scoring opportunity.
Rifle began its next drive from its own 20 and mostly with a solid ground game, moved 80 yards in 12 plays to score its second touchdown on a 10-yard pass play from quarterback Adam Rice to Tanner Quick with 26.2 left before halftime. Gutierrez's kick made it 14-0 at the break. An 18-yard run from Kellin Leigh on the first play of the drive provided momentum for the Bears.
Rifle got the ball first in second half play and a 17-yard scamper by Leigh and a 23-yard run by Moeller helped the Bears go 68 yards on 11 plays that ended on a one-yard plunge by Rice. The kick by Gutierrez made the score 21-0 at the 6:14 mark of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Delta began its final drive of the game from its own 20. The drive started early in the quarter and was still in progress near the end of play. Delta controlled the tempo of the game, and the clock, with an 18-play drive that stalled on Rifle's 13 when Zach Decker fumbled the ball away.
The Bears ran five plays, with the final play being a kneel-down by Rice to end the game.
Unofficially, Moeller ran the ball 26 times for 190 yards and one touchdown. Leigh was credited with 91 yards on 12 carries. The Bears finished with 313 yards rushing on 46 carries.
Rice was one of three in the passing department for just 10 yards.
Delta's offense was paced by the passing game. Whiteside threw 26 times and had 15 completions for 141 yards and one interception. The leading receiver for Delta was Chris Black who finished with 90 yards on 10 receptions. Ryan Whiteside had three catches for 45 yards.
The Panthers are currently shown with a 5-2 record in league play and 6-3 overall. Palisade (5-2 and 7-2) and Eagle Valley (5-2 and 7-2) are both listed ahead of the Panthers in league standings. In reality, Delta is the second-place team on tie-breakers with the two teams as the Panthers have defeated both in league play. Only the overall record has the two teams listed higher than the Panthers.
Delta will most likely take over sole possession of second-place if Rifle can defeat Eagle Valley in the final regular season game for both teams this week.
Delta, even though they have beaten both Eagle Valley and Palisade, is shown below the two schools in wild card point rankings. Depending where you get your information, Eagle Valley is listed in either fourth or fifth while Palisade is either 11th or 12th. Delta is shown in 12th or 13th place. If the Panthers hold on to either of those positions they should make the post-season playoffs.
This week's schedule has Delta playing its regular season finale in Steamboat Springs against a Sailors squad that is seventh in league standings with records of 2-5 and 4-5.