By Wayne Crick
When you’re ranked No. 1 in your division in football, it’s not a given you’ll win every game. That’s what Bayfield’s Wolverines were thinking when Delta High School brought its top-ranked team in Class 2A to the game last Saturday (Oct. 10) in Bayfield. The No. 12 ranked Wolverines played smash-mouth football in the first quarter of their game against the Panthers and capitalized on four Delta turnovers (two interceptions and two fumbles) to build a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Bayfield had the ball first but failed to sustain its first offensive series of the game and lost the ball on downs when it failed to convert on a fourth down play. Delta reciprocated with a fumble by junior Timothy Horn. The Wolverines promptly moved the ball into the end zone on an 82-yard drive culminating with a 3-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Cody Ross to Crosby Edwards. The extra point gave Bayfield a 7-0 lead with 3:17 left in the first quarter.
On Delta’s next offensive series, following Bayfield’s score, the Wolverines recovered another Horn fumble. This time it took Bayfield eight plays and a 1-yard plunge by running back Cade Carlson to make the score 13-0 early in the second quarter.
The Panthers weren’t quite finished with their turnover issues and on their next possession, quarterback Nolan Bynum threw an interception that set Bayfield up at Delta’s 17-yard line. Delta’s defense asserted itself to thwart the Wolverine touchdown express to force a Zane Liddell field goal from 40 yards out to give Bayfield a stunning 16-0 lead over Delta with almost seven minutes left in the first half.
Horn made up for his earlier fumbles by carrying the load for most of Delta’s ground game on its next drive. After toting the ball for key plays, Horn ripped up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown run for Delta’s first score. A 2-point conversion pass from Bynum to junior Nate Scharnhorst made the score 16-8.
The Panthers went on to outscore Bayfield 24-0 the rest of the way and began that run on an 80-yard drive on their next possession. Bynum finished the drive with a 10-yard scamper that made the score 16-14 after another 2-point conversion attempt failed.
Delta began the third quarter with Bynum orchestrating the beginning of the end for Bayfield with a 60-yard bomb to senior Colbi Braslin. The Panthers first lead of the game blossomed to 22-16 after Bynum spun a pass to Braslin for the 2-point conversion.
Bayfield threatened to score on its next possession but stalled out on an incomplete pass on fourth down. The Panthers marched down the field on their next possession behind the running of Horn and Bynum’s passing. Bynum scored his second touchdown of the game to end the drive on a 4-yard run. Jaun Gaucin booted the extra point to make the score 29-16 early in the fourth quarter.
Gaucin added a 29-yard field goal with 5:26 left in the game to make the final score 32-16.
Bynum finished the game with 260 yards passing on 16 of 25 attempts with a pair of interceptions and a touchdown to his credit. Braslin led the receiving corps with four catches and 127 yards and a 60-yard touchdown reception. Scharnhorst finished the day with six catches and 24 yards with senior Noah Nortnik grabbing four Bynum aerials for 63 yards and Horn had one catch for two yards.
Horn was Delta’s leading rusher with 172 yards on 24 carries followed by Bynum’s 57 yards on nine carries and Colton Johnson’s one carry for 10 yards.
The Panthers finished the day with 499 total yards.
Defensively, Johnson’s 18 tackles topped the Panthers efforts with junior Hunter Goff and brother James Goff making 14 tackles each and Bynum hitting double digits with 10 tackles.
The Panthers are at home on Friday, Oct. 16, for a 3 p.m. contest against Middle Park’s Panthers, a 44-0 loser to Pagosa Springs last week.