Palisade too much to handle for Glenwood in 42-8 loss
Friday night’s 3A Western Slope League showdown at Stubler Memorial Field between the visiting Palisade Bulldogs and the host Glenwood Springs Demons was hyped up as one of the Western Slope’s Games of the Week.
The Bulldogs, led by standout senior quarterback Cam Tucker, had other ideas.
When it was all said and down, the Bulldogs took control of the 3A WSL championship race, thanks to a 42-8 decision over the Demons, leaving Glenwood banged up following the physical showdown.
“We tried to create a little bit of a playoff atmosphere for ourselves; we really did, because we knew this was a big game that one of these teams had to win for the league,” Pat Engle, Glenwood’s second-year head coach said. “Obviously they did too; they weren’t dumb. The rest of the way they should be heavily favored in each game. But I think it was another year that we lost this game in April, May, June, July (in the weight room), absolutely.”
Palisade wasting no time asserting its physicality, pushing the Demons back of their first drive of the game, before then ripping off a 5-play, 57-yard drive for the game’s opening points. Tucker found junior wide receiver Jaden Jordan for 38 yards on a post route, setting up Tucker’s 4-yard keep on a read-option, giving the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 8:04 left in the first quarter.
Playing in just his second game since returning from an ankle injury, Tucker — a Division I recruit — transformed the Palisade offense for much of the game.
Trailing 7-0 at home, the Demons took to the air offensively as sophomore quarterback Evan Heyl found senior fullback Elliot Dwyer-Walz for a 21-yard gain. A holding penalty a few plays later crushed any hopes of putting together a scoring drive for Glenwood though, as the Demons punted the football back to Tucker and the Bulldogs.
Three plays later, thanks to a 21-yard completion from Tucker to sophomore Franklin Barks, and a 9-yard run by Barks, junior fullback Julio Rodriguez barrelled through the line and raced in for a 27-yard touchdown, giving the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead with 2:30 left in the first quarter.
Down two scores at home, the Demons just couldn’t get in gear offensively, struggling to get a push up front against a tough Palisade front seven.
Glenwood went 3-and-out on its next offensive possession, which then led to a 21-0 lead for Palisade as Tucker found senior Caden Sparks wide open down the left sideline for a 23-yard touchdown with 10:19 left in the second quarter.
“I think anytime you have a player like that [Tucker], he just gives you so much more confidence,” Engle said. “He’s the coach’s right-hand man; he’s a very, very talented football player. I was just so impressed with Palisade and their kids. The sportsmanship that they showed was incredible, and they’re very-well coached.”
The Demons got into gear on offense down three scores, as junior Garrett Dollahan rushed for 10 yards to move the chains. A few plays later though, Glenwood’s strong drive into Palisade territory ended as Heyl’s pass over the middle on 4th and 11 was intercepted by Tucker, giving the Bulldogs one more possession before the half.
Tucker then led Palisade to a fourth touchdown as Sparks ripped off runs of 11, 14, and 15 yards before Rodriguez bowled for 12 yards, setting up Tucker’s 3-yard keeper, making it 28-0 with 2:04 left in the first half.
Heyl tried to get the Demons moving late in the half as the sophomore found Dwyer-Walz for 7 yards and junior Wheatley Nieslanik for 13 yards and a first down. Once again though, the drive stalled, leading to a punt and a Palisade kneel-down to head to halftime.
Coming out of the half, Palisade received the opening kickoff and went up 35-0 as Tucker found Sparks wide open up the seam for a 39-yard touchdown, pushing the Bulldogs’ lead to 35-0 with 9:06 left in the third quarter.
From there, the two teams traded punts before the Demons mounted another strong drive, aided by an early pass interference penalty on the Bulldogs.
Heyl then found senior Dylan Albright for 9 yards, Dwyer-Walz for 6 yards and 10 yards, but two straight incompletions late in the drive in Palisade territory led to a turnover on downs, keeping the Demons off the scoreboard.
Palisade took advantage of the turnover on downs, marching methodically down the field before Barks scored from 1-yard out with 8:02 left in the game, starting the mercy-rule clock at 42-0.
Glenwood didn’t quit though.
The Demons rushed down the field as sophomore Blake Nieslanik churned off a gain of 12 yards. Dwyer-Walz then rushed for 10 yards and a first down, before senior Tucker Porter rushed for 12 yards and another first down.
Palisade jumped offsides to set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Nieslanik as the clock continued to run late. Dwyer-Walz converted the 2-point conversion, but it was too little, too late as the Bulldogs came away with a 42-8 win over the Demons.
“To be completely transparent, I feel like I really let the kids down,” Engle said. “I really feel that way. I know I’m not out there playing, but dang, these kids deserve to win. Excuses are… you know, everyone’s got them, but I don’t want to make any excuses for our schedule or anything like that. Our kids deserve to win, and we’re not getting it done, and it ultimately falls back on me. I just feel bad for the kids.”
Glenwood falls to 1-6 on the year, including a 1-1 mark in the 3A WSL. The Demons will celebrate Senior Night next Friday at Stubler Memorial Field as Glenwood hosts Battle Mountain in another 3A WSL battle.
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