Bears fall to Steamboat |

Bears fall to Steamboat

Melinda MawdsleySteamboat Pilot & Today

Fifteen minutes after Steamboat defeated Rifle the lights went out on Gardner Field.But the scoreboard stayed lit: Steamboat 35, Rifle 29.It was one of those games Sailors coach Mark Drake said he didn’t want to end. It had been at least five years since Steamboat upended Rifle, and, while not the preferred finish for Rifle players and fans, the victory was a fitting way for Drake to conclude his regular-season coaching career at Gardner Field.Ten minutes prior to kickoff, Drake formally announced his retirement after spending 35 years as either an assistant or head coach within the Sailors program.”That put us over the edge,” senior Lonny Radford said. “We wanted it more than anybody, and we had to give it to him.”In the process, the Sailors improved to 7-1 on the season, and, more importantly, moved to 4-1 in the league, clinching a playoff spot. Rifle fell to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the league.It wasn’t until quarterback David May took the final knee with 22 seconds remaining that the outcome was certain. After a whirlwind fourth quarter in which 22 points were scored in nine minutes and two turnovers occurred less than 20 seconds apart, nothing seemed sure until the time ran out.Radford – who caught two touchdown passes, including the game-winner midway through the fourth – made the game-saving interception as well, 10 seconds after the Sailors fumbled the ball trying to run out the clock.After the fumble, Rifle took over at the Steamboat 49-yard line. Trailing by six, Bears quarterback Kyle Sanderson heaved a pass down the left sideline to his receiver in double coverage. Radford snared the ball and fell quickly at the Sailors’ own 13-yard line, giving Steamboat the ball back and one final chance to put the game away.”We knew Steamboat was tough,” Bears assistant Damon Wells said. “They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect. Absolutely all the credit needs to go to Steamboat.”Once again, a team came prepared to face the Sailors’ passing attack. Once again, a team failed to contain it, as May threw for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another.But the game-winning score didn’t come from May. It came from junior running back Brad Bonner, who connected with Radford on a 28-yard halfback pass that gave the Sailors a two-touchdown lead with 7 minutes 37 seconds left in the game.”They were thinking we had to run the ball, and Brad did a great job selling the run,” Drake said. “I’m so proud of these kids. It was a tremendous effort with a big heart.”Rifle came back and scored a touchdown with 2:59 left on Marcus Carrion’s second touchdown run of the game. The Bears converted the two-point conversion on Sanderson’s pass to Troy Weiss to pull to within six.Rifle could not recover the onside kick, but May’s fumble near midfield gave the Bears one more chance to tie and perhaps win. Radford’s interception on the subsequent play, however, stifled the Bears’ chances.

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