Devils skin Panthers, 18-7, in league slugfest
EVHS 0 6 6 0 6 - 18
Delta 7 0 0 0 0 - 7
Delta (7:12) J. Ponce 59 run. A. Ontiveros PAT. 7-0
EVHS (2:48) Stevens 1 run. PAT failed. 7-6
EVHS (6:37) Rowles 3 run. PAT failed. 12-7
EVHS (4:37) Ortiz 37 yard interception return. PAT failed. 18-7
GYPSUM — The Eagle Valley Devils might, just might ride Buck Ortiz’s pick-six into the playoffs.
Conventional thinking didn’t give Eagle Valley much of a chance against the No. 6-ranked Delta Panthers. The thing is, though, it was a football game, not a convention, and Eagle Valley won, 18-7.
Eagle Valley and Delta hit each other with everything but political indifference.
The only licks they didn’t deliver were to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
Hits that registered on the Richter scale.
Hits with everything but a lawsuit.
Hits that … you get the idea.
For the first couple minutes it looked like the conventionals might be correct.
Delta made quick work of their first possession. Jonny Ponce carried three straight times, the third for 59 yards and a touchdown with less than five minutes gone in the game.
The highlight of Eagle Valley’s first three possessions was punter Xavier Mendoza’s 58-yard blast early in the second quarter.
But Eagle Valley’s defense stiffened and the offense adapted faster than a flu virus.
And little luck smiled on Eagle Valley, which helped.
Ortiz’s punt pinned Delta at its 3-yard line and a Panthers fumble put Eagle Valley in business at the Delta 12.
Riley Rowles was good for four yards, Luis Chavez for six more to make it first and goal from the Delta one, and quarterback Harrison Stevens scored on a keeper to put Eagle Valley on the board.
Later in the second quarter, Stevens sprinted to his right on an option play, and cradled the ball like it was solid gold and he’d have to pay for it if it got scratched. Finally, at the last possible nanosecond he pitched to Ortiz who made the corner and 52 yards more before he was pushed out of bounds at the Panther 3 yard line.
Two plays later, Rowles carried — or more accurately the Devils carried him and he rolled into the end zone for Eagle Valley’s second touchdown and the lead.
Delta answered with a screen pass that broke for 43 yards to the Eagle Valley 5-yard line. Panthers quarterback Cade Gafford got stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to cap a ferocious Eagle Valley goal line stand.
The two teams swapped floggings for the next 10 minutes before Gafford finally got Delta rolling again.
Gafford nailed a 19-yard completion for Delta, but then Ortiz drove a stake through the Panthers’ hearts when he jumped a screen pass and his pick-six went 37 yards to the end zone for an 18-7 lead for Eagle Valley.
Two plays later, Rowles recovered a Delta fumble around mid-field and Eagle Valley started grinding the clock like a Panthers-flavored snow cone.
Delta got the ball back with 37 seconds left, but was 76 yards from the end zone, down by two touchdowns and out of time outs.
As if poets wrote it, on one of the last plays of the game Ortiz threw the Delta ball carrier for a five-yard loss. On the game’s last play, Eagle Valley tackle Devin Ward knocked down his third pass of the night, to go with a quarterback sack and a half dozen tackles for losses.
Eagle Valley is 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the rugged 3A Slope. This win will definitely help the Devils in the CHSAA wild-card rankings which come out again on Monday. In the meantime, the Devils host Palisade next week at Hot Stuff.