Bears roll in matchup of 3A WSL elites |

Bears roll in matchup of 3A WSL elites

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Jeff Caspersen Post IndependentRifle's Kellin Leigh hauls in a pass from quarterback Adam Rice during the Bears' 31-3 win over Palisade at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction on Thursday.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado – It was supposed to be a close game, but it played out like every other Rifle football contest this season. Yes, the Bears blew out another opponent.

With Ryan Moeller amassing 244 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries on the ground and Kellin Leigh finding the end zone twice with his legs, the top-ranked Bears rolled host Palisade on Thursday, 31-3.

Rifle came into the game at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction with the No. 1 ranking in 3A according to the latest Denver Post poll. The Bulldogs were No. 2. Both teams were undefeated.

“We knew we had it in us,” said Bears senior quarterback Adam Rice, who threw for 106 yards on 5-of-8 passing. “It’s what we expected – a physical, tough game. We had to fight for every yard. It’s always that type of game with Palisade.”

It looked as if the game would live up to the hype of a 1 vs. 2 matchup on the Bulldogs’ opening possession. They advanced the ball from their own 26 to the Rifle 36 before quarterback Luke McLean threw an interception into the arms of Moeller.

The Bears, now 6-0, cashed in with a 32-yard field goal by Marco Gutierrez to make it 3-0 just 2 minutes, 1 second into the night.

After forcing a Palisade punt, Rifle found the end zone with 2:56 left in the opening frame. Leigh covered the final seven yards of an 11-play, 90-yard scoring march.

From there, the Bears’ defense, which has now allowed a mere 15 points in six games, bottled up the Bulldogs.

Spencer Jackson’s 32-yard field goal, which came between TD runs of 74 and 78 yards by Moeller, accounted for Palisade’s only points of the night.

“They played better than we did,” said Bulldogs head coach John Arledge, whose team dropped to 5-1 overall and to 3-1 in the 3A Western Slope League.

Rifle is now alone in first place at 5-0 in conference play.

“It’s nice to beat Palisade again, especially my senior season,” Moeller said. “They’re a physical team, a really good team. It was just a really good game.”

Leigh finished with 47 rushing yards on 10 carries for the Bears, who racked up 327 yards on the ground and 135 through the air. Isaac Rider rushed for 58 yards on nine totes.

Bailey Hoffmeister had an interception for Rifle, which plays host to No. 7 Conifer next week.

Palisade, which was led by Dalton Hannigan’s 124 rushing yards, travels to Steamboat Springs in Week 7.

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