Bears romp past Commanders in wet conditions
Bouncing back from a Week 2 loss at Florence and a bye week in Week 3, the Rifle Bears rolled to an impressive 54-26 beat down Friday of the visiting Kennedy Commanders at Bears Stadium behind a four-touchdown performance from senior running back Drake Montgomery and a strong running game overall in cold, wet conditions.
Montgomery, who stepped in for former Rifle running backs Tyler Bosshardt and Ty Leyba, picked up his second three-touchdown rushing performance of the season on runs of 60, 46 and 40 yards and added the clinching pick-6 from 70 yards out midway through the third quarter to lead Rifle to its third win of the season.
“You know it’s funny, we don’t really notice big individual performances during the game,” Rifle Head Coach Damon Wells said. “We do not call plays for kids like that; I don’t even really know how to articulate it, but Drake’s a good boy. He works very hard and so many people on our team do things well to make things like that happen. I think that’s where our focus is.”
As Montgomery churned out big yards on his way to a big night of over 200 yards on the ground, fellow senior running back Blaine Vance had a big night as well finding the end zone twice in the win on runs of 43 and 28 yards, while Camron Shepherd added a score of 19 yards.
In fact, Shepherd would have had a 78-yard touchdown run to start the game on just the third play from scrimmage, but a holding call wiped out the big run by the junior, but fortunately for him he was able to find the end zone later on.
Outside of the strong rushing performance from the Rifle backfield, junior quarterback Luke Ellis got into the scoring mix with a beautiful 34-yard strike to a streaking Shepherd up the seam early in the first quarter to make it 14-0 Rifle following Montgomery’s 46-yard burst.
With the Bears leading the Commanders 14-0 in miserable conditions, it played right into the hands of the Bears, who look to pound the ball on the ground and play physical defense. They did just that Friday.
Kennedy was able to get on the board late in the first quarter as running back Julian Herrera was able to bounce off of a few Rifle defenders before finding the end zone, but the Commanders’ PAT missed, making the score 14-6 in favor of the Bears.
Following the Kennedy touchdown it took just three plays for Rifle to answer as Montgomery weaved his way for the 60-yard touchdown to make it 20-6 Rifle early in the second quarter.
Then, on Kennedy’s next offensive possession the Bears forced a fumble that Colton Parsons scooped up and raced 51 yards into Commander territory to set the Bears up in the red zone. On the first play from scrimmage following the fumble recovery, Shepherd raced untouched into the end zone from 19 yards out to make it 27-6 Rifle with the rout appearing to be on.
Just before the half, Vance found pay dirt from 28 yards out to make it 33-6 heading into the break.
With the rain subsiding in the second half, the Commanders seemed to find their footing offensively as they received the ball to start the second half and marched down the field on a long, time-consuming drive to pull within 33-12. Trailing by a large margin midway through the third quarter, Kennedy decided to try an onside kick. The try worked in their favor as the Commanders recovered near midfield and marched down the field to punch it into the end zone again, cutting the Rifle lead to 33-20 following a successful two-point conversion.
On their heels a bit after two quick touchdowns from the Commanders to start the second half, the Bears then simply took over as Vance raced up the gut untouched for a 43-yard touchdown before Montgomery one-upped him with a 46-yard score late in the third quarter to make it 47-20 Rifle.
Needing to put the ball in the air to get back into the game quickly, Kennedy quarterback Diontaye Wallace took a huge shot on a blitz while throwing the ball away, right into the hands of Montgomery, who raced the other way for a 70-yard interception return to seal the win.
“We didn’t have a free safety on that play, so we sort of screwed up the coverage,” Montgomery said. “But I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and take advantage.”
The Commanders would add a late touchdown, but the game was already all but over by then.
With the win, Rifle moves to 3-1. The Bears will travel to Conifer next week for a big matchup on the road with the Lobos (4-0), who beat Steamboat Springs Friday, 48-0.
“From experience, that’s as difficult a place to play [Conifer] that we’ve been,” Wells said. “Next week should be a dogfight and I just hope we can stay competitive throughout.”
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