This year's edition of the Montrose versus Delta football game was evenly played, scorewise, for the first half of play. Each team found the end zone once in the game's first 24 minutes of play. Montrose scored in the first period and the Panthers in the second for a halftime score of 7-7.
Montrose's Royal Haulman polished off a 10-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge with 2:38 left in the first quarter. Luca Ruiz-Diaz booted the extra point for a 7-0 Montrose lead.
Second-half play turned sour for Delta as turnovers and miscues plagued the Panthers, helping Montrose outscore Delta 21-0 for a 28-7 final.
The game took on a more meaningful significance with the loss of last year's 3A leading rusher Jonny Ponce.
Ponce was injured early in the second period after a running play. Latest information indicates X-rays were negative with a tentative prognosis of a deep bone bruise on the upper portion just below the knee on Ponce's right leg.
Delta used Tristan Brown to fill the void left by Ponce to generate the ground game needed by the Panthers to move the ball into the Indians' end zone. A pass interference on Montrose gave the Panthers the ball on the Indians' 3-yard line.
Junior quarterback Kole Roberts found Beau Byers on an out pattern to cover the final three yards and put Delta on the board with 3.9 seconds left before halftime. AB Ontiveros' kick tied the game 7-7 at halftime.
The Indians got the ball first in the third quarter and punted it away after one first down and not much else.
Delta promptly turned the ball over on an interception by Jakob Siegel, giving the Indians great field possession at Delta's 39-yard line.
Montrose used just seven plays to traverse the 39 yards to paydirt. Quarterback Dylan Atwood sneaked in from the 1-yard line for the first of his two touchdowns in the game. The score came with 6:24 remaining in the third period. With Ruiz-Diaz's kick Montrose pushed its lead to 14-7.
Montrose's next score came on a Dalton Wright 69-yard jaunt down the right sideline for another touchdown early in the fourth quarter, making the score 21-7 after Ruiz-Diaz's PAT. That score came with 11:49 remaining in the game.
Delta, unable to move the ball, eventually turned the ball over on downs midway through the fourth quarter. The Indians used nine plays to move the ball 79 yards with Atwood toting the ball the final three yards to the end zone. Ruiz-Diaz booted the extra point, making the final score 28-7.
Ponce, before leaving the game, carried the ball nine times for 32 yards. Brown was good for 48 yards on 11 carries, helping the Panthers gain 85 yards on the ground.
Byers caught nine passes for 92 yards and the Panthers' only touchdown of the game. Kory Mills snagged two passes for 20 yards and Brendan Atchley had 33 yards with two catches.
Wright was the game's leading rusher with 161 yards with 20 rushes. Haulman rushed 11 times for 67 yards, with Atwood and Siegel collecting 41 yards with eight and four carries respectively for the Indians.
Delta, 1-1, will host Pagosa Springs, 0-1, Sept. 11 with kickoff set for 7 p.m.