Bulldogs bite Sailors | SteamboatToday.com

Bulldogs bite Sailors

Five turnovers cost Steamboat the game

Palisade’s defense couldn’t slow down the Steamboat Springs passing game. Steamboat’s defense couldn’t contain Palisade’s powerful running attack.

The only unit successful at stopping anything in Friday’s game between the Western Slope opponents was the Sailors’ offense. Five second-half turnovers cost Steamboat field position, 22 points and subsequently the game, as Palisade overcame an 18-12 halftime deficit to win 41-31 at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction.

The Bulldogs amassed 287 rushing yards behind 100-yard games from Kyle Britton and Jason Popick.

Sailors quarterback David May completed 30 passes out of 54 attempts for 374 yards and three touchdowns.

The teams combined for 804 total offensive yards and 72 points. After the loss, Steamboat coach Mark Drake said he thought three touchdowns on one side would win the game.

His belief may have proved true had Steamboat been able to hold the 24-12 lead it built in the opening two minutes of the third quarter.

The Sailors’ scored a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the second quarter and came out after halftime and received the second half kickoff. Steamboat needed less than a minute and a half to score its third touchdown of the game off a 49-yard touchdown pass from May to Shea Hurley.

Hurley gained a majority of the yardage on his weaving run from the middle of the field toward the end zone.

Palisade then went on to score three unanswered touchdowns off three Steamboat turnovers — two fumbles and one interception — to take a 27-24 lead that it never relinquished.

“We knew we would have to play defense in the second half,” Bulldogs coach Todd Casebier said. “We wanted to get back to our style of football. I thought offensively we had our way in the second half.”

Casebier said his Palisade team, previously ranked No. 1 in the state, had its best week of practice this season before Friday’s game against Steamboat. On Sept. 19, Palisade was embarrassed by Rifle, 35-14.

Friday, it appeared as if the Sailors were going to throw the Bulldogs out of Stocker Stadium. Even with Palisade defenders hanging on their backs, Steamboat’s receivers were making fantastic catches and moving the chains.

In the second half, however, the Bulldogs got the turnovers they needed to prevent the teams from trading touchdowns. Palisade pulled ahead but did not pull away until Britton’s final touchdown run with 2:26 left in the fourth.

Trailing 34-24, and facing a third-and-34, May found Lonny Radford in front of the Palisade bench for a 58-yard completion and subsequent first-and-goal.

Radford took the ball in on a short two-yard run, narrowing Palisade’s lead to 34-31.

Dustin Harris recovered Tyler Fosdick’s on-side kick with just over four minutes remaining in the game. The Bulldogs took nearly two minutes off the clock before Popick slipped through the Sailors’ defensive line, linebacking core and secondary to score on a 36-yard run.

Steamboat started on its own 20 with 2:12 left and aired it out down the field moving it deep into Palisade’s territory before a fumble ended the drive.

Harris took a knee to run out the clock.

“You can’t win with five turnovers in one half,” Drake said. “But they showed a lot of heart. They showed they are a good football team and can play at this level.”

Take away the five turnovers and the Sailors may have won by more than 20 points. All week, Steamboat worked on the passing game and running to the perimeter. Through five games, teams have been hard-pressed to stop the Sailors’ passing game.

But one team finally managed to outscore Steamboat.

“We have to pick it up and practice holding onto the football,” Sailors senior Michael Herbert said.

Steamboat (4-1 overall and 1-1 in the league) returns home for its homecoming game against Delta at 7 p.m. Oct. 3.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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