Friday’s nonconference clash between Lewis-Palmer and Pueblo South was a boxing match.
But after every Ranger jab, the Colts swung back harder.
Lewis-Palmer had glimpses of success against South, whether it was a third-and-long conversion, a defensive stop or a forced turnover, but the Colts responded with a vengeance each time in the 46-3 South win.
The Colts’ long game was the story as South employed its arsenal of special teams speedsters and a star receiver.
Harrison senior cornerback Timmy Evans recovered a fumble in overtime to send the Panthers to a 21-14 victory over Pueblo County on Friday night at Memorial Field.
Two kick returns for touchdowns and two long touchdown passes in the first half put Lewis-Palmer too far “behind the eight ball,” according to Rangers coach Dustin Tupper.
“That really stinks man, when on the first punt of the game you give up a touchdown, your first kickoff of the game you give up a kickoff return,” Tupper said. “It’s always the story. Turnovers and two special team scores really put us behind the eight ball, forcing us to try to crawl out, and I don’t have that kind of offense right now.”
The Rangers had a chance to get back some momentum off a tipped interception by Connor Bower early in the second quarter which put them in the red zone. But two missed touchdown passes and a short rush forced L-P to settle for three.
“We had an opportunity … but with a team that good you have to put together touchdowns, especially when field position is such a battle,” Tupper said.
Sophomore Jace Bellah was a threat on every side of the ball finishing with a punt returned for a touchdown, touchdown pass and two interceptions — one for a 40-yard touchdown return.
“I just like playing my role and doing whatever they need me to do so we can do what we do best — win games,” Bellah said.
Two long passes to senior Jackson Dickerson all but put the game on ice. One was from Bellah, and the other a touchdown where he pulled down the one-handed bobbling grab for more than 50 yards, from the hands of Logan Petit.
But Bellah returned with an interception and a 40-yard return at the start of the second half to cap the Colts’ scoring.
“I kind of baited the QB a little bit because I saw him looking at the screen play so once he threw it I ran and got the pick,” Bellah said of his third-quarter interception return. “This gives us great confidence because we know we are a really good team and we are really excited to get into league.”
Despite the loss, Tupper is proud of his team’s efforts to stop South running back George Longoria. Besides a 49-yard rush on the Colts’ first drive, the Rangers defense did well containing the junior who had nearly 600 rushing yards entering Friday’s game.
Lewis-Palmer quarterback Alex Weaver did not play the second half due to injury, but Tupper could not confirm the extent.