Coming into the Friday night homecoming game with the Palisade Bulldogs the Delta Panthers had outscored their opponents 76-0 in their first two contests. Palisade, who plays in the 3a conference, looked to spoil the early success of the Panthers(2a) season.
The Panthers started by scoring the first 10 points of the game. It was freshman quarterback Ty Reed’s first official start. Reed started the scoring by hitting tight end Hunter Goff in stride on a seam route. Goff scored easily on the 55 yard play. The first possession for Palisade would end on a muffed snap to the Palisade Punter. Goff and Tucker Johnson converged on the tackle at the Palisade 13-yard line. But the Panthers could only muster a field goal off of the opportunity.
The Panthers led 10-0 with 5:21 remaining in the first quarter. The Panthers would be shut out the remainder of the game. Palisade would only attempt two passes the entire contest with one completion for a negative 4 yards. But they amassed 360 yards on 47 carries for a 7.7 avg per carry and four touchdowns. Junior quarterback Malakhi Espinosa would lead the rushing stats by gaining 120 yards and scoring three times. Junior running back Rhett Ward added 110 yards and one touchdown.
Reed would end the night with seven completions on sixteen attempts for 118 yards. 95 of those yards were to Goff who had two catches on the night. Senior Timmy Horn led the Panthers rushers with 62 yards on 15 attempts.
Defensively the Panthers struggled to stop the shifty running of the smaller Espinoza who is listed at 5 foot 6 inches and 157 pounds and running back Rhett Ward also 5 foot 6 inches and 160 pounds. The Bulldogs offensive line created running lanes. Misdirection and option plays kept the Panthers defense on their heels most of the contest. The Palisade offense did most of their damage on long sustaining drives that would favor them in time of possession.
The Panthers trailed at halftime only down 14-10. With a little over three minutes remaining in the half the Panthers defense would garner a turnover on downs at their own 31-yard line. The Panthers offense was stymied by the Bulldogs and the Panthers would let the clock run down. The opening kickoff for the second half would go to the Bulldogs on their 33 yard line. The Bulldogs would drive for 67 yards eating six and a half minutes of clock to increase their lead to 22-10. The Bulldogs tacked on another score to finish with a 28-10 victory. The 2nd half highlight for the Panthers was a 40-yard pass to Goff from Reed late in the fourth quarter deep into Bulldogs territory. The Panthers were unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
The Panthers travel to the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers (2A) on Friday, Sept. 17, for a non-league game. Cortez is 1-1 on the season after a bye last week. The Delta Panthers (2-1) were ranked 4th in the State before their contest versus Palisade.