Delta hands Devils a heart-breaking loss
DELTA – Delta is a strange, strange place for visiting football teams. And it was bizarre even by its own standards Friday night when Eagle Valley football came calling on the Panthers.
The Devils led 21-6 at the half and ended up falling to Delta, 25-21. On a night when Eagle Valley was plus-4 in turnover ratio, the Panthers’ passing game was too much for the Devils as the hosts rallied for three second-half touchdowns, including the final score with 1:27 left.
Friday night’s game was eerily similar to Eagle Valley’s 35-21 win two weeks ago against Steamboat Springs at Hot Stuff Stadium. The Devils looked great in first half, only to be picked apart by an accurate passer in the second half.
Delta quarterback Mitchell Whiteside completed 12-of-18 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was Chris Black who had nine of those grabs for 158 yards.
In a sign of things to come, Delta held the ball for the first six minutes of the third quarter. Eagle Valley would have just two three-and-outs offensively in the entire period. Eagle Valley had Delta’s drive stalled early, but a Devils’ personal foul extended the drive. With new life, the Panthers marched down the field with Whiteside to Black for 26 yards, closing Eagle Valley’s advantage to 21-13.
Another Eagle Valley penalty – this time a pass interference – on third-and-8 from the Delta 20 gave the hosts a new set of downs on the Panthers’ next scoring drive. Whiteside hooked up with black for two big completions before finding his brother, Ryan, for a 30-yard strike. Robert Williams plunged from 2 yards out, and Delta had closed to 21-19 late in the third quarter.
On Delta’s decisive drive, the Panthers marched 90 yards on a Devils defense which had been out on the field for most of the second half. Mitchell Whiteside hit Black for 18 yards and Ryan Whiteside for 32 in key plays during this stretch. Williams ran it in from five yards out with 1:27 left in the game to take the lead for the very first time on the evening at 25-20.
Eagle Valley got the ball on its 45-yard line with all three of its timeouts. Devils quarterback Jordon Hudspeth got a 5-yard screen off to Rick Ramunno, but that was it, as Eagle Valley suffered a heart-breaking defeat.
And to think it was all Devils in the first 24 minutes.
Eagle Valley started this one with a bang. Cole Nielsen took the opening kickoff 90 yards to the house for an early 7-0 lead. Ayren Hart ripped the ball out of Mitchell Whiteside’s hands on the Panthers’ first possession.
And this would be a theme all evening. The Devils defense swarmed to the ball and won the turnover battle, 4-0. The defense stopped a Delta drive on the Devils 9-yard line in the first quarter with another fumble recovery.
Delta did get on the board early in the second quarter on a 21-yard pass from Mitchell Whiteside to Black for a score.
The Devils responded with a 65-yard drive. Hudspeth hooked up with Sam Boyd on fourth-and-5 for a 6-yard gain, which brought the ball down to the Delta 15.
Eagle Valley finished the drive with a 9-yard strike from Hudspeth to Zeke Sandoval with 5:42 left in the half.
Eagle Valley’s defense stopped Delta on the Devils’ 37 with less than a minute to go before halftime. Eagle Valley didn’t sit on the lead. Hudspeth threw a 55-yard bomb to Hart with 44 seconds left. Two plays later, Nielsen plunged into the end zone, giving the Devils a 21-6 lead at the intermission.
Eagle Valley (2-1 overall and 1-1 in the 3A Slope) returns home next week for a nonconference game against Arvada at Hot Stuff.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
Eagle Valley football
Devils 7 14 0 0 – 21
Delta 0 6 13 6 – 25
E- Cole Nielsen, 90 KO return, KG, 11:46
D – Mitchell Whiteside to Chris Black, 21 pass, KNG, 10:28
E – Jordon Hudspeth to Zeke Sandoval, 9 pass, KG, 5:42
E – Nielson, 1 run, KG, 0:06
D – Whiteside to Black, 26 pass, KG, 5:55
D – Robert Williams, 2 run, pass failed, 0:21
D – Williams, 5 run, pass failed, 1:27