Bears thwart Demons in rivalry matchup
The Rifle Bears are all about the team being a part of each and every win, but it’s hard to overlook the individual performance that senior running back Tyler Bosshardt turned in Friday against the rival Glenwood Springs Demons.
Bosshardt rushed for 319 yards and five touchdowns on just 10 carries for the Bears in their 55-6 win over the visiting Demons on Senior Night.
On a night where the Demons tried to limit the Bears’ big plays, four of Bosshardt’s five touchdowns were of 50 yards or more (52, 58, 84 and 95 yards.)
“I definitely didn’t think I would do that in a rivalry game like this,” Bosshardt said postgame. “The offensive line did an amazing job tonight. They do a great job week to week of preparing for each Friday night. I’m totally grateful to them for my performance tonight and I’m so proud to be a part of this team.”
While Bosshardt may have put up the individual video game numbers, the Bears offensive line was the overlooked group that paved the way for more than 500 rushing yards on the night.
Senior center Joe Kosht and senior guard Gage Johnston led the way up front, opening up big holes for Bosshardt, along with fellow running backs Blaine Vance, Ty Leyba and quarterback Ethan Strouse.
“We’re proud of our kids,” Rifle head coach Damon Wells said. “Our kids are willing to do almost anything we ask them to do. We’re blessed with the boys that we have here, especially up front.”
Vance, who quietly rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, was the workhorse in the first quarter for Rifle, who controlled the ball for almost nine minutes in the opening 12 minutes.
On the Bears opening drive, Vance carried the ball nine times before bursting up the middle for a 16-yard touchdown to put Rifle on top, 7-0. The Bears marched 70 yards in 11 plays, chewing up more than six minutes of the first quarter.
Three plays later, Leyba stepped in front of an errant throw from Glenwood’s Jake Townsley to give the Bears the ball in Demons territory.
Vance found pay-dirt nine plays later from 10 yards out to give the Bears a 13-0 lead with just over a minute left in the first quarter.
After a three and out from Glenwood following Vance’s touchdown, Bosshardt topped Vance’s start to the game, taking a counter off the right side for a 58-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 20-0 lead.
Following another three and out from Glenwood, the Demons got off a great punt from Matt Osier, which pinned the Bears back at their own 16-yard line.
That didn’t faze them, thanks to the offensive line and Bosshardt. On nearly the same play as his 58-yard TD, Bosshardt took the counter off the right side for an 84-yard touchdown to make it 27-0 midway through the second quarter.
“They’ve got running backs that can take it the distance,” Glenwood head coach Rocky Whitworth said. “Just huge plays. We were unable to contain the big play tonight.”
Bosshardt would add a two-yard touchdown a few minutes later to make it 34-0, but Glenwood would respond.
Behind Townsley and running back Easton Gaddis, the Demons marched 65 yards in 12 plays, capped off by a beautiful throw from Townsley to Gaddis for an 11-yard touchdown right before the first half was over.
But once again, Bosshardt answered with another touchdown.
After a nice kick-off return from Leyba set the Bears up at their own 40-yard line, Bosshardt took the first play from scrimmage to the house for a 60-yard touchdown to make it 41-6 at the half.
“I don’t think of myself at all, so it’s tough to even think where this performance ranks for me, personally,” Bosshardt said. “I’m all about the team, because it’s a group effort. If this was the best for the team tonight then it was the best for me as well.”
Coming out of halftime trailing big on the road, the Demons showed their true character by not quitting as they marched 72 yards in eight plays — largely through the air — before turning the ball over on downs at the Bears 5-yard line.
Bosshardt then took the first carry 95 yards for the exclamation point on his impressive night.
Despite the poor defensive performance by the Demons in this one, the offense was able to move the ball up and down the field, but interceptions and turnovers on downs did them in at the worst possible moments.
“I was very happy with the offense tonight,” Whitworth said. “We drove the ball down the field three times, so that was encouraging. We weren’t able to convert on two of them, but on one we did, so it’s important to have that kind of consistency in any offense.”
Unfortunately for the Demons they just couldn’t find the consistency early enough to keep them in the game.
Bears backup quarterback Luke Ellis capped off the scoring with a 5-yard keeper off the right side in the fourth quarter with 9:01 remaining.
While the Bears running game gets a lot of the credit for the big win against a local rival, the play of the Rifle defense — namely Leyba — had has much, if not more, to do with the win than anything the offense did.
Leyba hauled in two interceptions and junior linebacker Takoda Chaney hauled in a late interception as well to lead the Bears defense.
“I don’t think you can be successful in this league unless you’re multi-faceted,” Wells said. “All three phases have to play well. I know that’s a cliché, but Glenwood is so good, so talented and so well coached that you better have a plan in every area. Our defense was up to the task tonight.”
With the win, the Bears improve to 8-1 (5-1 3A Western Slope League), while the Demons fall to 1-8 (1-5 3A WSL).
Rifle will wrap up the regular season on the road next week at Summit, while the Demons will host Steamboat Springs on Senior Night.
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