Moffat County football falls in final minute to Delta
For the Craig Press
Across seven games, Moffat County High School football had not yet been on the wrong side of the scoreboard this fall.
However, the Bulldogs’ fourth-quarter comeback effort Friday came with the harsh realization that their opponents were also capable of getting out of a tight spot.
MCHS took a heartbreaking loss in its bid to take the 2A West League title, ending with a 17-14 defeat to the Delta Panthers.
While Delta took an early lead after a 50-yard touchdown catch by Damien Gallegos, the Bulldog defense stayed on point throughout the first half, getting tougher than ever as the Panthers encroached on the red zone, and MoCo junior Evan Atkin denied another Delta score with an interception that he nearly took all the way back before halftime.
Following a 21-yard Delta field goal, MCHS caught their biggest break with a Panther fumble after running back Timmy Horn lost control of the ball on one of his many runs up the middle.
The Bulldog offense was booming by the fourth quarter and, adding to a sideline hurdle of Panther tackles earlier in the drive, Atkin dove over the goal line after a 26-yard sweep.
“I’ve been hoping to do things like that all year, so it was cool to finally be able to,” Atkin said.
Atkin, who had added at least three touchdowns per game until this point, said he knew, as the Dogs’ leading rusher, he’d be a big target.
With Delta slowing down considerably as their passing and rushing alike started failing, MoCo kept grinding little by little. Once in the red zone, the ground game was being contained, so senior quarterback Ryan Peck floated a 9-yard pass to Logan Hafey, who got the pigskin just far enough for the Dogs to lead 14-10 with less than four minutes left.
“Logan made the biggest catch of our year on that one, he kept us in the game with that,” Peck said. “Sometimes you gotta take little wins, and for us it was moving the ball consistently in that fourth quarter.”
Although he was still kicking extra points, MoCo coaches kept Peck off the defensive line Friday night.
“It’s frustrating, but our defense played a great game without me on the field,“ Peck said. ”We’ve got a team with depth on it, and that’s what we showed tonight.”
Delta was shaken yet stalwart, as a fourth down pass by Ty Reed moved the chains as they neared the red zone again. On 4th and 7 from the 12-yard line, officials measured the potential conversion after a rush by Horn, ruling it good.
With the clock ticking down, the Panther crowd went crazy as Horn ran it in from 4.
“I thought we had it on that fourth down, but that’s what happens when you have two great teams squaring off,” said MCHS head coach Lance Scranton.
The Bulldogs has 25 seconds to work with, but some short and deep throws alike by Peck didn’t succeed, with a desperate lateral attempt in the final second going nowhere as Delta fans stormed the field.
“It was still a great game, those kids really soldiered tonight,” Scranton said.
Moffat County football moves to 7-1 overall, now runners-up in the conference. The Panthers hold the same record, and both teams were undefeated in the 2A West.
The Bulldogs return home for an Oct. 29 Senior Night game against winless Coal Ridge, after which they’ll learn their seeding in the 2A postseason.
“It’ll be fun to have a game like that to build up our spirits again,” Atkin said.
Though the loss doesn’t exactly help MoCo, Delta’s relatively easier schedule may still work against them in the RPI standings, and there’s a chance the Bulldogs will be seeded higher in the playoffs.
Scranton is confident his squad can use the defeat as motivation going forward in the season.
“We’ve told the guys we’ve got five games left, because we wanna go all the way,” Scranton said.
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