Rifle mows down Montezuma-Cortez, 62-6 | PostIndependent.com

Rifle mows down Montezuma-Cortez, 62-6

Bobby Abplanalp
The Cortez Journal
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CORTEZ, Colorado – Rifle football is ranked No. 1 for a reason.

The Bears displayed their lofty ranking on the ground and through the air at Cortez Friday night.

The rushing attack of Ryan Moeller and Kellin Leigh, and the pitch and catch tandem of Adam Rice and Aaron Wagler provided offensive fireworks. Defensive backs Cody Zang and Leigh were suffocating forces on the other side of the ball.

Rifle took care of business and overwhelmed Montezuma-Cortez High School, 62-6, at Panther Stadium.

“We were proud of our kids and their effort. But hats off to Cortez. I thought they played hard until the very end,” Bears coach Damon Wells said. “I thought their staff had a really nice plan. They have an impressive team.”

The Panthers (1-3, 1-2 3A Western Slope League) punted on their opening possession.

Rifle (4-0, 3-0 in the 3A WSL) took over at its own 24-yard line and marched down the field behind Moeller and Leigh. Moeller rushed for 26 yards on the drive and Leigh recorded 33 yards, capping things with a 2-yard touchdown run. Omar Lerma’s point-after attempt was good to make it 7-0.

On the following M-CHS drive, Panthers quarterback Jonathan Walck hit Alex Lopez for a long first down play, but Lopez was stripped and Rifle recovered at its 38.

The Bears had a neutral-zone infraction and then went 67 yards in four plays for their next score. Moeller had runs of 23 and 10 yards before his 6-yard TD scamper. Lerma’s PAT made it 14-0. Rifle converted a Leigh interception into seven more points before the end of the first quarter to lead 21-0.

Moeller mauled the Panthers in the second quarter with TD runs of 20 and 4 yards. Sandwiched between Moeller’s scores was a TD toss from Rice to Wagler on a 1-yard fade route to up the lead at 35-0.

But M-CHS would get on the board.

On third-and-9 from his own 23, Walck heaved a bomb to a wide-open Dakota Goosen. The wide receiver rumbled with the rock down the left sideline to the Bears’ 29. A roughing-the-passer penalty tacked on 15 more yards, which set up the Panthers at the 14 and had the home fans out of their seats.

Two plays later, Walck found Goosen over the middle for a 14-yard TD pass. Alex Lopez’s extra point sailed left, but the Panthers had some life down 35-6.

However, Moeller swung the momentum back to the Bears with his 4-yard TD run with 31 seconds remaining in the half to give Rifle a 42-6 advantage at the break.

The stout senior picked up where he left off to open the third quarter. Moeller broke tackles – and ankles – with a 47-yard scoring run just two plays into the second half. Rifle led 48-6 and Moeller sat the rest of the evening.

“Everything was just clicking,” Moeller said. “We got here and we knew what we needed to do. Everyone who’s in there is in there for a reason. Everyone’s doing their job, everyone’s performed the best, everyone has to do what they need to do. It’s working. Everyone’s doing their assignments and that’s what you have to do to win.”

A continuous running clock ensued by Colorado High School Activities Association rule because of the 40 point-or-greater margin.

Bailey Hoffneister ran in a 7-yard TD before the end of the third to up the Bears lead at 55-6.

Lee Harrison intercepted backup Panthers’ quarterback Tallon Ralstin and returned it 40 yards for a TD in the fourth quarter for the final margin.

“This is the third consecutive week we’ve faced a spread offense, so that worked in our favor,” Wells said. “We made some plays every now and again when we really had to.”

Rifle hosts Battle Mountain (0-4, 0-2 3A WSL) next Friday at 7 p.m., before the showdown at No. 2 Palisade (4-0, 3-0 3A WSL) on Oct. 4.

“I’ve been around this league long enough to know, it’s tough every single week in the Western Slope League,” Wells said. “We’ll plan, practice and do everything we can to prepare our boys. Hopefully, they respond. I believe they will.”

M-CHS will trek to Steamboat Springs (1-3, 0-3 3A WSL) and play next Saturday at 11 a.m., after what was a tough two-game stretch.

“It’s over now. We ran the gauntlet and now we’re going to move on. Those are two very tough teams,” said Panthers’ coach Casey Coulter about Palisade and Rifle. “We’ll breakdown film and practice. Steamboat is a beatable team and these kids know that. We better play like we know how.”


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