Panthers run rampant on Demons
Thanks to a balanced offensive attack and a punishing defense, the first-place Delta Panthers were in control throughout the entirety of their 56-0 win over the Glenwood Springs Demons, Friday, dampening Homecoming for the red and black.
Behind Jonny Ponce, Tristan Brown, Kole Roberts and Beau Byers, the Panthers were nearly impossible to stop, whether it was through the air or on the ground.
Delta started their opening in impressive fashion as Roberts connected on all three passing attempts for 46 yards through the air, while Ponce and Brown pounded the ball on the ground to keep the Demons guessing as to what was coming next.
Following Roberts’ 7-yard strike to Brown in the red zone, the junior fullback burst up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown to give the Panthers an early 7-0 lead.
“You know, we try to be as balanced as possible,” Delta head coach Ben Johnson said. “If a team is going to load the box, we want to be able to throw the ball. If they spread out defensively we can run the ball. That’s the good diversity that we have and we have some very talented athletes to work with.
“On that first drive it showed.”
In a quick response, the Demons found some success on the ground thanks to junior running back Easton Gaddis, who had one productive night for Glenwood Springs.
On runs to the outside, Gaddis was able to turn the corner and pick up chunks of yardage, but on his third carry of the drive he fumbled the ball away to Delta in great field position.
Although the Panthers held the Demons off the board, the play of Gaddis was a major bright spot for a struggling Glenwood offense.
Making the switch from receiver to running back earlier in the year due to a number of injuries, Gaddis continues to improve week-to-week, which showed against the Panthers as he racked up 49 yards on 13 carries and added two receptions for eight yards out of the backfield.
“Easton is one of the most talented players that we have,” Demons head coach Rocky Whitworth said. “He’s got a lot of talent, so if he continues to work hard and train then he’s going to be something else for us.”
The Panthers wasted no time adding their second score of the game as Ponce raced untouched around left end off of a beautiful option pitch from Roberts. The Panthers quarterback originally ducked inside to draw in the Demons defenders before lofting the perfect pitch through the air in stride to Ponce allowing the senior running back to find pay dirt.
“He [Ponce] is just a talent,” Whitworth said. “Talent like that at this level of football always shows up.”
Glenwood once again started to put together a good drive offensively as quarterback Jake Townsley hit a wide open Larry Flores for 15 yards, but three plays later the Demons punted the ball back to the Panthers already down 14-0.
After a 10-play drive highlighted by an 11-yard run from Brown and a 9-yard run from Ponce, the Panthers had to settle for a field goal attempt from Abraham Ontiveros. Luckily for the Demons, Ontiveros pushed his attempt wide right to give the ball back to Glenwood in their own territory.
Trying to get back into the ballgame, the Demons once again started to move the ball offensively against a strong Panthers defense.
Gaddis picked up 11 yards on a sweep and Townsley found Sonny Reynolds for a gain of 12, but just two plays later Townsley was picked off by Roberts in quarterback-on-quarterback crime.
Delta scored four plays later on a 10-yard pitch and catch from Roberts to Beau Byers — his favorite receiver on the night — to give the Panthers a 21-0 lead with just over nine minutes left in the second quarter.
Byers finished with six receptions for 75 yards and a score.
A few minutes later, Ponce would add a 78-yard touchdown to make it 28-0 Delta. Brown then picked off Townsley in Demons territory, adding to Glenwood’s struggles on the night.
Four plays after his interception, Brown added his second touchdown of the game to make it 35-0 Panthers.
“He’s [Brown] and outstanding football player,” Johnson said. “Tristan’s our banger and he’s so athletic. He’s just a very good athlete for us, and that showed.”
Showing no mercy following Glenwood’s three and out with just under a minute left in the half, Johnson decided to air it out and use his timeouts strategically, looking to add another score to start the running clock for the second half.
The Panthers did just that as Ponce rushed 18 yards untouched for his third score of the game, giving Delta an insurmountable 42-0 lead heading into half time.
Showing no quit, Glenwood came out of halftime and drove the length of the field on the Panthers before an incomplete pass from Townsley intended for Luke Patch fell incomplete, turning the ball over on downs to the Panthers at their own 22-yard line.
One play later, Ponce — almost reminiscent of his first 78-yard TD of the game — broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and then outraced the Demons defense to the end zone, putting Delta up 49-0 as the clock mercifully wound down.
On 15 carries, Ponce rushed for a game-high 231 yards and four touchdowns in the Panthers win.
“Jonny was big for us tonight,” Johnson said. “He’s had a tough year with being hurt and almost missing four games this year. He was a little frustrated, but it was good for him to come out and have a big game.
“He’s a big part of our program and he’s done so much for our program.”
Tanner Webster would add a late Panthers TD to cap off the 56-0 win.
Despite the big win, the Panthers have no time to relax and think about their performance in the win, considering the daunting schedule that lies ahead with Eagle Valley, Grand Junction Central and Palisade.
“We got Eagle next week, so they’ll play hard,” Johnson said. “That’s a big game. Central is a big game, as is Palisade at the end of the year. Game-by-game and getting better each week is our focus. We’ll see what happens.”
Glenwood will look to rebound from a tough loss as they hit the road to take on the Summit Tigers.
“I don’t think our kids quit at all tonight,” Whitworth said. “We had a 14-play drive to start the second half, which sure told me a lot about our team. I’m happy about that, but we don’t make enough plays to be competitive and we’re making enough mistakes to give scores up on us too high with turnovers and long runs. We’ve got to make a turn here.
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As the heat of the summer gives way to cooler mornings, summer trail race opportunities are slowly coming to an end.