Bears blank Pirates
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
RIFLE, Colorado – It was far from a masterpiece, but in the end, the Rifle Bears came away with a 16-0 win and have framed themselves a 3-0 start to the 2011 season.
The game was a mixed bag of a few big plays, a handful of turnovers and a little more passes than most expected from these two teams though most of three quarters.
As the end of the third neared, the Bears got back to smashmouth football and pulled away from the pesky Olathe Pirates.
Ryan Moeller, who had just six carries for 28 yards in the first half busted free up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 7-0 lead with 1:44 remaining in the third.
After that, it was the defense’s turn for a big play. Senior Taylor Webb used his quick feet and soft hands to snag an interception. The nifty defensive back weaved his way for a 42-yard return.
After the drive stalled, junior kicker Marco Gutierrez nailed a 26-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.
Both team’s defenses were stout and demonstrated their physical play. But when Rifle got the ball back after forcing the Pirates into a three-and-out, the Bears put the game away with a clock-munching drive that took 6 minutes, 20 seconds off the clock and went 83 yards on 15 plays – all running plays.
Webb finished off the drive with a 3-yard TD run.
In the drive, Moeller had 43 yards and Brandon Kittle added 28. Moeller ended the game with 24 carries and 144 yards while Kittle finished with 64 yards on 14 carries.
“We really got back to what we are good at,” Moeller said about the running game. “Our offensive line was great tonight.”
Moeller had a pair of fumbles in the game but both were the result of his determined, second-effort running style. It was that same power running style that seemed to wear down the middle of the Olathe defense. In the second half, he had runs of 20, 18, 17 and 14 yards.
As the Bears and Pirates battled to a 0-0 halftime deadlock, the two teams mirrored one another. Good defense and lots of turnovers. In the end, Rifle won the turnover battle 5-3.
Webb said adversity is just part of the game.
“We know that we’re going to face adversity. But this team just keeps working,” Webb said.
In the first half, Rifle’s junior quarterback Adam Rice went 3 for 6 including a gorgeous high-arching pass to Webb for 24 yards. But that drive ended with a fumble.
Defensively, Cody Beauford, Alex Copeland, Aaron Wagler and Jake Whaley all had big plays.
Moeller also had an interception in the first half when he sniffed out a screen pass in the middle of the line.
Next up for the 3-0 Bears is a much-improved Battle Mountain squad. Olathe fell to 1-2 on the season.
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A crew from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center last week cut disks of wood from trees downed by a powerful avalanche that thundered off Garrett Peak in March 2019. The samples will aid research by dendrochronologists into the epic avalanche cycle.