GRAND JUNCTION – Talan Hulet ran for five touchdowns, Ty Reed tossed two more and the Delta Panthers trounced nearby rival Rifle 54-14 to win the Class 2A state football title, their first in 63 years, on Saturday at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction.

The No. 1 Panthers (13-0) jumped to a 20-0 lead before an uptempo offense and opportunistic defense put Rifle to within a touchdown.

But from there, Delta put on a clinic that only a team with about 12 playoff games under its belt could.

“It’s an unexplainable feeling, it’s crazy to me that this is going on,” Hulet said. “I feel like we’re a really well-rounded team … It’s next guy up. I feel because of that, that’s why we had so much success.”

Hulet, the game’s MVP, was thrust into the starting running back position this season after presumed starter Esai Carillo was hurt before the first game. Hulet, also a game-changing linebacker, has provided a steady presence on offense with his balanced and powerful running. And that was on display on Saturday.

His 100 first-half rushing yards featured three touchdowns from four, 17 and five yards out.

No. 3 Rifle (11-2) snuck in an eight-yard passing touchdown from Logan Gross to Tryston Sheets before the half. Lineman Troy Mataia then blew up Delta’s first two plays from scrimmage in the third quarter, and Gross then intercepted a third-down pass from Reed and took it 35 yards to the house.

But instead of giving the Bears the momentum, the pick-6 lit a fire underneath the Panthers.

Hulet carried the ball on eight of the following 10 plays for 56 yards and capped the drive off with his fourth touchdown of the game. That sparked a 20-point third quarter for Delta.

“I felt confident after that (interception),” Reed said. “I just had to wash it.”

The sundae was already made, everything that came after was just the cherries on top.

Reed ran for his 13th touchdown of the season and connected with Rylan Bynum and Jordan Fraser to bring his junior season total to 24.

The win eased the heartache of Delta’s 21-10 loss to Eaton in last year’s title game and the 2019 loss to Sterling. Rifle was in its first title game since its 2021 Spring season win over The Classical Academy. The only two losses for Rifle, which committed six turnovers in the game, this season came from Delta.

“Rifle has a great line and Troy’s a great player, he wreaked havoc. We put two guys on him and we still couldn’t get him blocked,” said Delta coach Ben Johnson. “He probably had 20 tackles in this game. He was impressive.”

Saturday’s game was moved from the CSU-Pueblo ThunderBowl to Stocker Stadium because of weather concerns, CHSAA announced earlier this week. That allowed the stadium to be filled to the brim with fans of the teams no more than an hour away from Grand Junction.

Hulet was embraced by a swarm of teammates, family, friends, and journalists all pining to speak with the man of the hour.

But after the team photo op with the grins, banner and trophy, Hulet’s first thought was to shout, “Hogs! Hogs!” for the big boys up front paving those holes for him.

“I gotta give credit to all of the guys up front, man,” Hulet said. “They dominated all game, had push going and because of them, we had the turnout that we had.”