Bulldogs get better of Bears in rematch | PostIndependent.com

Bulldogs get better of Bears in rematch

G. Sean Kelly
GSPI Sports Editor

GRAND JUNCTION ” The Bulldogs were all business this time around.

Palisade’s Alex Swanson scored three touchdowns ” two of over 60 yards ” as the Bulldogs avenged their only loss of the season with a 34-15 victory over Rifle Friday night during a first-round Class 3A state playoff football game at Stocker Stadium.

Western Slope Conference-champion Palisade had only one loss entering the game. It came in the conference opener against the Bears, who qualified for the postseason via the wild-card.

The Bulldogs obviously got some things figured out since the Sept. 19 defeat.

“This time we really knew what they were going to do,” Swanson said. “We came out and were physical and the defense played really well.

“It feels great,” he added of avenging the loss. “Obviously, they were the only team to beat us. We were hoping to play them in the playoffs, and we got it done.”

And the Bulldogs got it done early.

Palisade took a 7-0 lead on their first drive with a 2-yard run by Cody Nystrom.

On Rifle’s opening offensive series Swanson picked off a Kyle Sanderson pass, then bolted down the sidelines for a 62-yard touchdown return and a 14-0 lead with 5 minutes, 18 seconds left in the first quarter.

“I saw the play the whole way,” Swanson said. “I was definitely thinking end zone on that one.”

It was the first of two first-half interceptions thrown by Sanderson, who didn’t play in the second half due to shoulder and leg injuries.

“We had big turnovers at the beginning and we just couldn’t overcome those,” Rifle coach Darrel Gorham said.

Palisade upped its advantage to 21-0 in the opening minute of the second quarter on a 22-yard scamper by Kyle Britton, who racked up 126 yards and also had an interception.

The Bear offense started to get untracked midway through the second quarter.

Troy Weiss carried for 51 yards ” including a 44-yard dash to the Palisade 2 ” in a six-play, 70-yard drive that ended on a Weiss touchdown from 1 1/2 yards out at the 5:12 mark of the second quarter. Weiss led all rushers with 157 yards on 30 carries.

Taking over on the Palisade 43 after a Bulldog failed fake punt attempt, Rifle had a chance to move within one touchdown before halftime. The Bears moved to the 25, but turned the ball over on downs after back-to-back incomplete passes.

With Sanderson out in the second half, Marcus Carrion took over the quarterback position, but the Bears’ fortunes didn’t improve.

Rifle’s J.R. Childress returned the second-half kickoff to the Palisade 31, but the Bears stalled at the 24 and turned the ball over on downs.

Three plays later Swanson took an end-around untouched 64 yards for a 28-7 lead with 8:56 left in the third quarter.

“I’ve got to give that one to the O-line,” Swanson said. “I came around the end and there was nobody.”

“Palisade did a good job up front,” Gorham added. “I’ve got to give them credit, they played a great game.”

Swanson added a 7-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Carrion wrapped up the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown in the final minutes.

Rifle finishes the year with record of 7-4. Palisade (10-1) hosts Fountain-Fort Carson (9-2) in the quarterfinal round next weekend.

In other Class 3A state football action: Steamboat 13, Sterling 10; Moffat County 25, Berthoud 0; Pueblo County 22, Englewood 9; Fountain-Fort Carson 27, Elizabeth 6; Florence 63, Skyview 26; D’Evelyn 35, Alamosa 3.

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