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Beetdiggers spoil Bears’ home opener

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Chad Spangler Post Independent
ALL |

RIFLE, Colorado ” Three turnovers, zero points, no first downs and 42 yards of offense.

Numbers like those will sink any team fast.

That’s precisely the nightmare Rifle suffered through in the second half of Friday’s football showdown with Brush.



After taking a 14-13 lead into intermission, the Beetdiggers ” ranked 10th in Class 2A by RockyPreps ” erupted for 26 unanswered points in the second half to escape Rifle with a 40-13 win.

As the cliche goes, it was a tale of two halves for the Bears.



After clicking offensively in the first half ” cashing in scoring drives of 89 and 69 yards ” Rifle lost its touch in the second half, giving the ball away twice by fumble and another time by interception.

“We were right there the whole time,” said Bears’ interim head coach Anthony Alfiini, still filling in for the injured Bill Kucera, who was at Friday’s game but still isn’t cleared to coach again after rupturing a disc in his neck in the preseason. “A couple of little things just added up to big things.”

Alfini’s Bears did plenty right early, marching 89 yards in 4 minutes and 26 seconds to take the lead at 7-0 at the 11:50 mark in the second quarter. The drive featured a 27-yard screen pass from quarterback Ryan Rebhan to Brian Key and a Rebhan 2-yard scoring scamper.

Brush squared the game at 7 a drive later courtesy of a 45-yard touchdown run by Tyler Booth moments later and then went up 14-7 when Kyle Muhr pounced on a Booth fumble ” after the ball bounced off a player or two ” in the end zone.

Rifle flashed moxie, though, bouncing back with a Rebhan-to-Joe Burgess 14-yard scoring pass just before half to go into the locker room down 14-13.

“We were right there,” Alfini said.

But the cold that crept over Rifle on this mid-September night did little to cool off the Beetdiggers, who stormed out to a 21-13 lead just moments into the third quarter when Arturo Maltos hit C.J. Kukus with an 18-yard TD pass to cap a 46-yard scoring drive on the first series of the frame.

Rifle went punt, fumble, fumble, interception on its next four possessions as Brush continued to light up the scoreboard, ending the Bears’ home opener on a sour note.

Maltos added a rushing score and Skyler Seewald rumbled into the end zone for a pair of ground TDs as the Beetdiggers improved to 2-1.

“We just executed in the second half,” said Brush head coach Randy Dreitz, crediting no halftime adjustments for the change in the game’s tone. “We just pulled our heads out and played harder.”

Isaac Brost rushed for 90 yards on 15 carries to lead the Beetdigger ground game, which effectively ate up clock time in the second half. Booth added 71 yards on 13 totes and Seewald had 57 yards on six carries.

James Martinez paced the Bears’ run game with 84 yards on 17 carries, while Brian Key picked up 34 yards on three carries.

Rebhan finished the night with 95 yards with a TD and a pick on 7-for-13 passing. Key caught two of those passes for 54 yards.

Rifle (1-2 overall, 1-0 in league) resumes 3A Western Slope League play ” which it opened with a 42-35 win at Moffat County in Week 2 ” at home against Delta next week.

“We just made too many mental mistakes in the second half,” Alfini said. “We have to go back to practice and work on those mistakes for when the real season starts.”

Notes: With doctor evaluations and possible surgery lingering, it’s still unclear whether or not Kucera will return by season’s end.


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