The chalkboard in the Moffat County High School football team's locker room read "we got outscored 14-7 in the second half" after the game. While the Bulldogs actually matched Delta's point output of 14, the message got the point across. Don't be satisfied with the 43-21 win.
"We came out and played too cocky," senior Michael Babb said. "If we play like that anymore, any team can beat us."
The cockiness was displayed a bit earlier this week when the seniors made a wager that they would run a 100 sprint for every point they didn't score over 52. If the offer stands, Monday won't be a very fun day at practice.
The way Babb saw it, Friday night wasn't a lot of fun, either.
"We just came in thinking nobody could beat us," he said. "We have to practice and play harder if we're going to go where we want."
Coach Kip Hafey didn't have as gloomy of an outlook.
"There are a lot of distractions this week for the kids," he said, referring to homecoming. "I thought we came out and did a good job of focusing to get the win."
If the team was focused, things started a bit blurry.
Senior Kellan Moore fumbled on the Delta 20-yard line on Moffat County's first possession. The Panthers marched down the field with two long pass plays. Running back Anthony Laurita punched it in from four yards out with 4 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first quarter. It was the first time the Bulldogs trailed in the season.
They didn't trail for long.
In the next series, senior fullback Scott Garoutte rumbled for a 39-yard gain. Four plays later, senior Tyler Pike caught a pass and pitched the ball back to senior Daniel Tague, who went untouched nine yards into the end zone. The hook-and-ladder play was one of several plays the Bulldogs attempted in the game.
"We broke out some fun stuff for homecoming," Hafey said. "Not all of it worked, but the basics of our game was what needed to work, and it did."
With 45 seconds remaining in the first quarter Pike intercepted a Kyle Clanton pass on Moffat County's 40-yard line and ran it back to the Panthers' 19. On the third play of scrimmage in the second quarter Moore ran the ball in from three yards out to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead.
"We are killing ourselves with turnovers," Delta coach Derek Carlson said. "In the last two weeks, we've had three interceptions that were converted into scores. We're just not good enough of a team to give the ball up."
The Panthers would cough the ball up once more in the second quarter, and the Bulldogs converted the second turnover into seven points. Junior quarterback Derek Duran connected with Kevin Loughran for an eight-yard score.
Duran also scored on a five-yard run. The score was 29-7 at halftime.
The Panthers forced three turnovers in the second half, including picking off Duran for the first and second time in the season. They scored on pass plays of 23 yards and 16 yards on throws from Clanton to Patrick Weitzel and Chris Wilson respectively.
Clanton had a strong night, throwing for 201 yards on 11-of-29 passing.
"We went for a couple of play action fakes early," Hafey said. "But I thought once we settled down, we didn't do too bad.
The highlight in the second half for the Bulldogs was a bruising 85-yard touchdown run by Tague, who ran over at least two would-be tacklers. Garoutte also scored on a six-yard pass play from Duran.
Duran finished the night 9-of-15 for 126 yards.
"Moffat County can do a lot of things well, and that should help them down the road," Carlson said. "I think on any given night Palisade, Rifle and Moffat are the best team in the league."
The Bulldogs had 470 yards of total offense, while the Panthers finished with 286.
Next week Moffat County travels to Glenwood Springs. The Demons upset second-ranked Rifle on Friday night, 15-14.