Rifle football overcomes Brush in gridiron showdown, 28-14
The Brush Beetdiggers embarked on a grueling 270-mile journey only to be subdued by the hard-hitting Rifle Bears, who displayed an exhilarating performance Friday, securing a 28-14 victory.
The Bears roared into the game with senior quarterback Logan Gross flashing his skills early. Gross broke through Brush’s defense, charging in from 20 yards out for the first touchdown. His synergy with sophomore Ryland Lane set the stage for another rushing touchdown by Gross, pushing the Bears to a promising start.
Before the close of the first quarter, the Bears capitalized on a botched snap by Brush. Senior Gabe MacGregor showed his tenacity, recovering the fumble and setting up Rifle in a prime position. Although a connection to senior wide receiver Sterling Cook promised more points, a holding call held them back. Nevertheless, the Bears closed the first quarter with a comfortable 13-0 lead.
Brush did attempt a resurgence, marking the scoreboard with 9:20 left in the second quarter. But Rifle’s momentum was hardly shaken, especially with a Cook touchdown catch right before halftime. A catch that even he felt the weight of.
“We weren’t having our best game in the first half and so it really was just a play that I had to make,” Cook said. “Logan gave me a nice ball and we were able to walk out of the first half with some momentum.”
The third quarter proved to be a test of resilience for the Bears. They witnessed a series of fumbles from both sides, including one by the Bears that Brush swiftly converted into a touchdown. However, senior captain Troy Mataia’s fumble recovery and Gross’ interception maintained the Bears’ upper hand.
The climax arrived in the fourth quarter when a Rifle field goal was blocked. The pigskin lying on the ground, Rifle senior Omar Silva collected the ball, darting into the end zone, and Gross further amplifying the lead with a successful two-point conversion.
Rifle’s defense shone brightly, shutting down Brush’s late-game efforts and cementing a 28-14 triumph.
“We played a tough team tonight and all we could do was challenge them and go at them, because we knew they were going to come at us,” Gross said. “At the end of the day, it’s about playing a full 60-minute game and we need to make sure we are able to do that moving forward.”
Gross’ stats stood out: 142 passing yards, 162 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, a passing touchdown, and an interception in his defensive role. Mataia bolstered the defense with two fumble recoveries and six tackles.
“It was ugly, but a win is a win and we will take as many of those as we can get,” Rifle head coach Ty Leyba said. “We are going to learn from it and we are going to get better from it.”
Looking forward, the 3-1 Bears set their sights on hosting the Moffat County Bulldogs on Friday.
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