Turnovers, penalties do in Demons against Bulldogs
The Glenwood Springs Demons’ defense stood tall and kept the Demons in a physical matchup with the visiting Palisade Bulldogs on a cold, windy Friday night in a 3A Western Slope League game at Stubler Memorial Field, but turnovers and ill-timed penalties offensively did in the red and white in the opening game of the WSL season for both teams as Palisade pulled away in the second half for a 35-20 victory.
Less than a week after dropping a frustrating game to Pueblo Central on the road, the Demons returned home fired up for a shot at the defending 4A WSL champion Bulldogs, and through two quarters it appeared as though the Demons were more than up to the task of knocking off the Bulldogs as the two teams fought hard to head to the half tied at 7-7.
“The defense played well tonight,” Glenwood Springs head coach Rocky Whitworth said. “They kept us in the game.”
Receiving the opening kickoff, Palisade marched just 19 yards before punting the ball away to Glenwood, but the Demons didn’t do much with the ball either, picking up 26 yards on a connection from senior quarterback AJ Crowley to junior wide receiver Wyatt Ewer before punting the ball back to Palisade, pinning the Bulldogs at their own 6-yard line.
Three plays later Glenwood junior Jack Richards sacked Palisade sophomore quarterback Cameron Tucker, forcing a Palisade punt once again. But that’s where the game took a slight turn in favor of the Bulldogs as Palisade punted the ball to Ewer, who put together a nice 23-yard return before fumbling the ball back to the Bulldogs, giving the physical Palisade offense a second chance.
Fortunately for Glenwood, its defense — in a sign of things to come on the night — stood tall, forcing the Bulldogs to turn the ball over on downs.
Locked in a defensive battle, Glenwood went three-and-out on its next possession, punting the ball away for a second time. But that punt by junior Gavin Olson pinned the Bulldogs inside their own 20-yard line, setting up senior Felix Cano’s defensive heroics.
Following a fumble by Palisade that lost the Bulldogs 19 yards before recovering, Cano stepped in front of a Tucker pass for the interception at the Palisade 7-yard line. The senior then weaved the whole way across the field before getting tackled at the Palisade 2-yard line, setting up junior running back Miguel Herrera’s 1-yard plunge two plays later to give the Demons a 7-0 lead as senior kicker Tyler Dietrich tacked on the extra point with 9:46 left in the second quarter.
Trailing on the road, the Palisade offense found its groove by turning to senior fullback Terrance Williams and senior split-back Austin Bernal on the ground. Riding the legs of the two senior backs, Palisade marched 72 yards in 15 plays, eating up nearly seven minutes of the clock as Tucker scored from two yards out, tying the game at 7-7 with just 2:45 left in the half.
Glenwood caught a break on its next possession as Olson punted the ball away to the Bulldogs, where Bernal misjudged the kick, fumbling the fair catch attempt and giving the Demons possession late in the half at the Palisade 34-yard line.
Senior quarterback Brady Steen got the Demons moving near the end of the half, finding junior wide receiver Edwin Rodriguez for 11 yards, but the drive came to an abrupt halt as Steen was picked off in the end zone by Bernal, who made up for his fumble moments prior.
Williams then took the first play from scrimmage following the interception 57 yards down the right sideline, putting the Bulldogs in scoring position, but a 43-yard field goal attempt by Palisade just missed wide right, sending the two teams into the half tied at 7-7.
Coming out of the half, the Demons looked to get going offensively, receiving the ball first. But much like the first half, Glenwood couldn’t get much going offensively, resulting in a three-and-out.
After a good punt return by Bernal set up the Bulldogs at the Glenwood 33-yard line, Williams took it from there, carrying the ball four times on the five-play drive, capping it off with a 17-yard touchdown at the 8:21 mark of the third quarter and giving Palisade a 14-7 lead.
Trailing by seven midway through the third quarter, Glenwood struggled to put a drive together, but again the defense stepped up as senior linebacker Juan Felan recovered a Palisade fumble, setting the Demon offense up on a short field once again.
This time though, the Palisade defense kept the Demons out of the end zone, thanks largely to a big holding call against Glenwood that pushed them back towards midfield, stalling the drive.
Palisade didn’t mess around on its next possession as Williams raced up the gut untouched for a 69-yard gain before Olson — thanks to great hustle — tracked down the Palisade fullback at the 9-yard line, saving a touchdown, at least for the moment.
Two plays later Tucker scored his second touchdown of the game, giving the Bulldogs a 21-7 lead with 1:16 left in the third quarter.
Attempting to respond to Palisade’s touchdown, the Glenwood offense got in its own way again as a fumble set the Bulldogs up at the Glenwood 8-yard line, leading to Bernal’s 8-yard score with 1:03 left in the third quarter, giving the Bulldogs a 28-7 lead with 14 of those points coming in just 13 seconds.
Credit to the Demons, though, as Glenwood found its groove offensively, marching 68 yards in 16 plays, eating up nearly seven minutes of game clock before Herrera found the end zone for the second time on the night, this one from 11 yards out, pulling Glenwood to within 14 at 28-14 with just 6:20 left in the game.
A three-yard score from Tucker — his third of the night — just under four minutes later gave the Bulldogs a 35-14 lead, all but sealing the win.
But the Demons wouldn’t go quietly as Steen came on in relief of Crowley and senior John Jensen, putting the ball in the air offensively, marching the Demons for a score from Herrera from 1-yard out. The junior’s third touchdown of the night was set up by a terrific 38-yard catch-and-run by Ewer, who eluded a tackler along the right sideline before nearly scoring on a diving attempt at the pylon, putting the ball at the one.
“All three quarterbacks are doing a great job and they have their own positive things that they bring to the team,” Whitworth said. “We had a great drive there in the third quarter, driving the field, so we scored numerous ways tonight.”
In the loss, Ewer hauled in three passes for 68 yards, while Steen threw for 74 yards and one interception. Herrera added 44 yards and three scores on the ground, while Olson chipped in with 10 rushing yards and 21 receiving yards on the night.
By falling to Palisade, Glenwood sits at 3-3 (0-1 3A WSL) on the season. The Demons host Battle Mountain for homecoming night at 7 p.m. at Stubler Memorial Field.
“The thing that we’re still not doing is controlling turnovers and crucial penalties,” Whitworth said. “Those are the things that we need to improve on the most.”
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