BOULDER – The first punch in each half Friday night was thrown by the Boulder Panthers, but Denver East found a way to answer and earned the 28-14 win at Recht Field to snap Boulder’s two-game win streak.
“Denver East fought hard and came ready to play,” Boulder coach Ryan Bishop said. “They did a lot of things right. We had a lot of penalties, and every time we moved the ball we shot ourselves in the foot.”
That wasn’t the case on the opening drive when Boulder drove 66 yards on 10 plays. Hale Chargois completed passes to four different receivers, including a screen pass to Parker Patchett that saw him break a tackle and go 20 yards to the end zone.
Boulder trailed 12-7 at the half but got the three-and-out from its defense to begin the third quarter. On the first offensive drive of the second half, Chargois threw a deep pass to Wiley Bennett, who managed to break some tackles and take off with breakaway speed for a 78-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers back in front.
“Our kids came out ready,” Bishop said. “They threw the first punch like we asked them to. When you play Denver East, they are scrappy, so we told them they had to scrap.”
The two touchdown drives were the only ones that Boulder could put together to challenge Denver East.
Other drives saw pressure from the defense lead to errant throws and a pair of interceptions. When Boulder did get some passes completed and break some runs, drives were stalled out from penalties, drops and other untimely mistakes that added up.
Penalties in particular hurt on Friday, according to Bishop.
“We were able to win a game last week because we only committed four penalties,” Bishop said. “Tonight, we probably had upwards of 12 or more.”
Boulder’s defense gave the team a chance early with four consecutive drives that led to two stops, an interception from Devin Kunkel and a missed field goal to open the game. Denver East would get on the board in the second quarter with Dylan Wigglesworth throwing a touchdown, but a missed extra point kept the Panthers in front with 5:08 left in the half.
Denver East finally started to run free on the ground on the ensuing drive that put the game in their favor. Aaron Franklin made plays in the wildcat package and scored on a 24-yard run with seconds left in the first half to put the team in front. The threat of the run allowed for one-on-one matchups in the passing game and saw Wigglesworth hit a deep pass up the sideline to Franklin for a 79-yard score to give them the lead back with 2:29 in the third.
From there, a steady dose of the run from Franklin, Isaiah Davis and others allowed them to shorten the game and put one more score on the board in the fourth quarter for good measure.
“We just missed some tackles,” Bishop said. “They have athletes that can run around and are shifty.”
Friday’s loss sees Boulder drop to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in their conference. The Panthers will look to get back in the win column next week at Westminster.
“We have to go 1-0 next week,” Bishop said. “We have to teach them better and be better coaches and get them ready to go.”