DELTA — Second-half turnarounds are often credited to halftime adjustments.
In Delta's 41-7 win over Judge Memorial in the first round of the 3A football playoffs, however, the coaches were taking little credit for the Rabbits outscoring the Bulldogs 34-0 over the final two quarters.
"I wish we could say we did something brilliant and clever at halftime, but all we did was challenge the kids to play our kind of football in the second half, and that's what they did," Delta coach Russ Henrie said.
After a first half that was similar to two boxers feelings each other out, Delta came out from the intermission and owned both sides of the football for the final 24 minutes. The Rabbits were more effective moving the football, and more effective holding down Judge. The Bulldogs also shot themselves in the foot several times with penalties and turnovers.
One factor that really opened up Delta's offense was its ability to throw the football, which made the Bulldogs have to be a little more honest in defending the run.
"Most people don't think we can throw the football, because we usually don't. But Joey Dutson is a good quarterback who does a good job of getting the ball to our receivers, who are very good at going out and getting it," Henrie said.
After holding the Rabbits to a four-and-out on the game's first possession, the Bulldogs got on the board first with an eight-play 55-yard drive that included a little good fortune at the end. With a combination of Will Huntsman and Christian Bar?biero doing most of the work, Judge moved down to Delta's 8-yard line. On a hand-off up the middle it looked like Huntsman was going to score but coughed up the football just outside the goal line. However, teammate Peter Lyons dove on the ball in the end zone, and Patt Gibbs' point-after gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
On Delta's ensuing drive, the Rabbits found the going tough on the ground, but a big pass from Dutson to Taylor Shamo put the Rabbits in scoring position. Derek Peterson finished off the 11-play 80-yard drive with a 6-yard TD run to make it a 7-7 game at the break.
The Bulldogs came out in the second half with two quick first downs to cross midfield at Delta's 41, before a costly personal-foul penalty killed the drive ?— and seemed to deflate Judge. The Bulldogs didn't get another first down until after the Rabbits had scored four straight touchdowns.
Delta went up 14-7 when Dutson found Josh Ipson all alone on the left flat, and Ipson ran untouched for a 46-yard TD reception. The Bulldogs fumbled the ball away on the very next play, and the Rabbits scored three plays later on a 14-yard TD run by Peterson. Midway through the final quarter, Delta scored again on Peterson's third TD run, this one from seven yards out.
Judge's chances officially ended when Delta's Kayson Church picked off a pass and ran it back 30 yards for another quick score. Late in the game, the Rabbits added one more TD on Stew Olomaalii's 5-yard run.
The victory earns Delta a quarterfinal matchup with Region 10 champion Park City.
"I have a lot of respect for Park City, and I'm not sure anyone can beat them the way they're playing right now. But we're certainly going to line up across the line from them and give it our best shot," Henrie said.