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High school football: Rabbits confuse, abuse Dons to control take control in Region 12

Published: Friday, Sept. 30 2011 10:51 p.m. MDT

DELTA — Not many people were giving Delta much of a chance heading into Friday's Region 12 showdown with Spanish Fork.

After all, the Dons rolled into town with one of the highest scoring offenses in 3A and it didn't seem realistic that Delta's offense could keep pace.

As it turns out, Delta's old-school brand of football more than held its own.

In their most impressive performance this year, the Rabbits dominated the time of possession and forced four Spanish Fork turnovers inside the red zone en route to a convincing 35-14 homecoming victory to improve to 6-1 on the season.

"We were planning on winning this game. Our kids figured we could do this, us coaches figured we could do this, we knew everyone was against us, but we saw some things that we liked," said Delta coach Russ Henrie.

Delta definitely benefited from some Spanish Fork miscues in the red zone, but it might not have mattered. Spanish Fork still hasn't figured out how to slow down Delta's inverted wishbone offense.

"When you haven't ever seen i,t it's confusing, and we were hoping we could confuse them a bit," said Henrie.

Delta confused Spanish Fork in a big way, finishing with 329 rushing yards on 64 carries in dominating the time of possession 33:01 to 14:59.

Christian Hatch (31 carries, 151 yards) and quarterback Colin Christensen (16 carries, 99 yards) did most of the damage on the ground. Christensen did plenty of damage elsewhere too with two touchdown passes and two interceptions defensively.

"Christensen and Hatch, all these seniors, they probably played their best games tonight," said Henrie.

Delta set the tone right away Friday night with Hatch capping the opening drive with a 10-yard touchdown run — a drive highlighted by a 35-yard fake punt run by Christensen.

It took Spanish Fork just 13 seconds to answer back as Hayden Nielsen connected with Luigy Paulino on an 80-yard TD pass to tie the game at 7-7. Delta's coaching staff wasn't worried.

"We knew they had a wonderful offensive game plan, and we knew we had to bend but not break. We knew they were going to get some long passes on us, but we didn't want them to get more than seven points a quarter," said Henrie.

The teams traded TDs the rest of the half. Delta's Hunter Johnson hauled in a 5-yard TD pass from Christensen to make it 14-7 late in the quarter, and Spanish Fork responded quickly again, this time on a 36-yard Nielsen to Paulino hook-up.

Delta didn't panic after giving up another easy touchdown, it just came out and did what it does best — pound the ball on the ground. It regained the lead 21-14 as Christensen capped a 13-play drive with a 1-yard plunge with 1:38 remaining in the half.

Spanish Fork moved the ball deep into Delta territory in the waning seconds of the half, but Nielsen was picked off in the end zone. That became a theme throughout the second half as the Dons turned it over three more times in the red zone.

Delta turned two of those three turnovers into touchdowns, the first on an 85-yard scoring drive — which was aided by 35 yards in penalties — and the second on an 80-yard drive.

"Homecoming, we were all pumped for the game. We had a great defensive game plan and we just executed," said Christensen.

email: jedward@desnews.com

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