Palisade Bulldogs too much for Eagle Valley Devils
GRAND JUNCTION — Tanner Pratt’s abilities within the offense of Palisade’s football team has been on display all season, and that certainly didn’t change against Eagle Valley on Friday.
Pratt found the end zone one a 15-yard reception and a 7-yard run during the first half, giving the Bulldogs an insurmountable lead from the start during their 42-0 Class 3A Western Slope conference victory at Stocker Stadium.
“You have to be pretty selfless to play in our system,” Palisade coach Joe Ramunno said. “There’s going to be a bunch of workhorses who are going to get a lot of the limelight, but it’s all of the workhorses who make it happen every week.
“Tanner is one of the guys who has done that,” the coach continued. “He’s a great blocker, a great pass catcher and does some great things all around for us.”
Pratt continued that trend on Friday for the seventh-ranked Bulldogs (8-1 overall, 5-1 in the Slope), scoring his sixth and seventh touchdowns of the season for a Palisade team that has nine players who have 10 people who have found the end zone this season. It became 10 at the tail end of the game when backup running back Terrance Williams rumbled for a 42-yard TD run with a little less than 4 minutes remaining to put the running-clock mercy rule into effect.
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The 15-yard strike from Palisade quarterback P.D. Riddle to with 8 minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the first quarter started the scoring run, however, and his 7-yard jaunt with 3:08 remaining in the first half staked the Bulldogs to a 28-0 halftime lead.
Palisade had plenty of that, rushing for 316 yards as a team. Isaac Maestas finished with 134 on 12 carries, including touchdown runs of 8 and 10 yards.
It all led to a critical matchup in the regular-season finale next Friday when the Bulldogs play at Delta (8-1, 6-0) in a game that will determine the league championship. The Panthers can clinch the league title outright with the victory, but the Bulldogs can clinch a share of that title with a win.
Eagle Valley (6-3, 3-3), which came into Friday’ game ranked No. 12 in the wild-card points standings that determine what teams reach the Class 3A state playoffs, was limited to just 106 yards of total offense by Palisade. The Devils’ offense never really found a rhythm, with 19 of the 40 plays they ran going either for negative or no yardage.
Eagle Valley’s loss sets up a game that could determine a fourth and final spot in the postseason for the Slope when the Devils host Central (5-4, 3-3) Friday. The Warriors were No. 19 in the standings headed into the weekend. The top 16 teams in the standings reach the postseason.
After Pratt’s first TD of the night put the Bulldogs ahead to stay, Maestas made it 14-0 with his 8-yard jaunt with 3:58 left in the first quarter. Eagle Valley held firm on Palisade’s next drive, however, forcing a punt after a host of Eagle Valley defenders sacked Riddle for a four-yard loss to force a punt.
Maestas, however, stripped Eagle Valley’s momentum away when he stripped the football away from Devils running back Corben Funk to give Palisade the ball on their own 43. Eight plays later, Riddle found Xavier Renteria from five yards out for a 21-0 Palisade lead.