Glenwood Springs defense stands tall to top Rifle |

Glenwood Springs defense stands tall to top Rifle

Last minute goal-line stand vindicates spring playoff loss

Glenwood Springs Demon Cole Sherick is brought down by a mass of Rifle Bears during Friday night's rivalry game at Rifle High School.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

All Teddy Huttenhower could think of was the number 36.

Less than five months ago, the Glenwood Springs Demons gave the Rifle Bears 36 inches of the field, and it ended their season. All summer, they didn’t forget it. They did exercises by the count of 36, each one reminding them of every inch they allowed on a fourth-and-goal in overtime in the playoffs.

On a dark, damp Rifle Friday night under the lights, they weren’t going to make the same mistake again.

Glenwood clung to a 13-7 lead in the final moments of the 2021 fall edition of the Bears-Demons rivalry. With just over three minutes to play, the Bears forced themselves inside the 10. A touchdown and an extra point guaranteed a win for the Bears. A stop was required.

A Glenwood Springs Demon reaches out to tackle Rifle Bear Nicholas Saldivar during Friday night's rivalry game at Rifle High School.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

On third-and-goal, with less than a minute to play, Rifle quarterback Trey Caldwell barreled toward the goal line.

“I just kept thinking of that number,” Huttenhower said. “When it came down to that last foot, the one thing that went through my head was, ‘It can’t happen again.’”

It didn’t.

The Demons piled on Caldwell. He was ruled short.

On fourth-and-goal, with even fewer than 36 inches needed for a tie, Rifle was called for an illegal formation. They couldn’t try to force their way in up the middle from 6 yards out. They had to pass.

The southpaw Caldwell rolled out to his arm side and found a target near the front pylon. It was a setup that had proved fruitful for Rifle already in the game.

On the Bears’ lone scoring drive in the third quarter, Caldwell had rolled out left first for an outlet pass and then for a scramble, both of which resulted in first downs and gave Rifle its first real scent of the end zone.

From more than 30 yards out, he took the snap and moved to his left again. When the Glenwood Springs players decided they wouldn’t be fooled again and closed it off, Caldwell stepped up in the pocket and launched a moonshot that fell into the sliding hands of Adan Silva right across the goal line.

In the dying seconds of the fourth quarter, Glenwood wouldn’t fall victim again. Caldwell’s pass found only the hand of a sprawled out sophomore, deflecting out of bounds.

All that was left was to take a couple of knees and celebrate.

“I’m about as proud of the kids as I’ve ever been,” Glenwood Springs head coach Pat Engle said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a more satisfying win.”

Glenwood Springs Demons head coach Pat Engle reacts to defeating the Rifle Bears during Friday night's rivalry game.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Glenwood relied on a defensive effort not just in the last stand but throughout the game. In the first half, Rifle gave them no wiggle room. Neither defensive group surrendered more than 100 yards of total offense in a scoreless first 24 minutes.

The Demons broke through first in the third quarter on their second possession, only to have Rifle match them on their turn with the ball.

Glenwood gained the edge in the fourth quarter as sophomore quarterback Joaquin Sandoval scrambled loose after the pocket collapsed inside his own 10 and shot the ball to senior receiver Ray Rosenmerkel down the right sideline to get to midfield. Two plays later, Sandoval found plenty of time in the pocket and unloaded a deep ball, once again to Rosenmerkel — this time down the left sideline — who carried it a few short yards into the end zone.

The Glenwood Springs Demons react after defeating the Rifle Bears during Friday night's rivalry game.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

After the point-after attempt went wide right, the pressure was once again back on the defense: a score put Rifle in the position to take the lead.

With their most recent loss still on their mind, the group stood up when they needed to most and earned Glenwood Springs its second straight regular season win against Rifle after losing each of the previous nine.

The victory doesn’t wipe away the pain of the playoff loss, but it’s a fine consolation prize, Engle said.

Glenwood moves to 2-0 on the season and will face Conifer in a nonleague game Friday at home. Rifle falls to 0-2 and is set to play Lincoln in a nonleague game Saturday in Denver.

Other Friday night scores: Grand Valley 36, Coal Ridge 7; Peyton 32, Roaring Fork 0.

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