Fast and furious: Bears roll to first-round win over Northridge
RIFLE 61, NORTHRIDGE 13
Northridge 0 0 7 6 — 13
Rifle 20 27 14 0 — 61
R — Brock Clark 90 kickoff return (Eduardo Sandoval kick), 11:44.
R — Layton Stutsman 8 run (Sandoval kick), 8:46.
R — Clark 47 run (kick blocked), 7:27.
R — Clark 15 run (Sandoval kick), 11:54.
R — Brooks Pressler 22 run (kick failed), 9:27.
R — Clark 11 run (Sandoval kick), 5:29.
R — Stutsman 1 run (Sandoval kick), 1:35.
R — Ty Leyba 10 run (Sandoval kick), 8:20.
R — Tyler Bosshardt 43 pass from Stutsman (Sandoval kick), 3:29.
N — Brenden Fulton 65 run (Kayla Beck kick), 1:05.
N — Kayson Werner 27 pass from Fulton (kick failed), 6:35.
First Downs 6 15
Rushes-yards 13-132 37-298
Passing yards 85 90
Total yards 217 388
Comp-Att-Int 5-23-4 4-6-0
Punts-Avg. 4-32.75 1-42
Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-30 3-25
RUSHING — Northridge, Willy Castillo 8-66, Fulton 4-51, Alonzo Lopez 1-15. Rifle, Clark 9-108, Blaine Vance 7-69, Nikki Holloway 4-38, Stutsman 3-19, Ramon Salvidrez 1-4, David Fugita 3-9, Austin Knight 2-3, Brooks Pressler 2-28, Ty Leyba 2-17, Jacob Webb 1-1, Alex Cordova 1-3, Camron Shepherd 1-1.
PASSING — Northridge, Fulton, 5-22-3-85; Werner 0-1-1-0. Rifle, Stutsman 4-6-0-90.
RECEIVING — Northridge, Werner 2-46, Justin Frye 2-35, Castillo 1-4. Rifle, Tyler Bosshardt 2-60, Knight 2-30.
RIFLE — Brock Clark set the tone for Rifle High School’s football team in a big way on Saturday.
Clark, a senior running back for the Bears, hadn’t returned a kickoff all year for Rifle until it’s game against the Northridge Grizzlies at Bears Stadium. He definitely made the most of it, returning it 90 yards for a score to give the Bears an early lead.
It’s a lead Rifle not only wouldn’t relinquish, but would build on. Clark’s touchdown was the first of nine unanswered scores for the sixth-seeded Bears, who rolled to a surprisingly easy 61-13 victory in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
“Absolutely,” Rifle coach Damon Wells said when asked if he was surprised by the final score. “Experience would show that there’s not a whole lot of days like this in the playoffs.”
The Bears left nothing to chance in this one, building a 61-0 lead by the end of the third quarter well after the running-clock mercy rule had gone into effect. That, of course, was because of the Grizzlies’ potent passing game which had amassed nearly 3,000 yards during the regular season.
That’s where the defense stepped up, intercepting the ball four times while limiting senior quarterback Brenden Fulton to just 5-of-22 passing for 85 yards, three picks and a touchdown — with that touchdown pass to Kayson Werner coming near the end of the fourth quarter with the game’s outcome long decided.
“Our coaches did a great job of showing us how when we get into the playoffs, teams are going to start throwing the ball more,” said Rifle senior Austin Knight, who had two of the Bears’ four interceptions. “Our defensive backs did a great job of stepping up, our linemen, our backers. Everyone stepped up. It was a team effort.”
Clark finished with 108 rushing yards on nine carries with touchdown runs of 47, 15 and 11 yards for Rifle, which moved into the 3A quarterfinals with the win. The Bears will play at third-seeded Roosevelt (10-1), which advanced with a 42-7 victory over Eagle Valley in another first-round game on Saturday. Game time will likely be determined on Monday.
The Grizzlies (6-5), actually, wound up down before the opening kickoff. Senior wide receiver Jay Frye, who came into the game with a team-high 69 catches, tweaked his ankle in pregame warmups and never took the field. That seemed to make a difference to Fulton, who started the game 0-for-9 passing — including three dropped passes. Northridge didn’t pick up a first down on offense until he hit Werner for a 19-yard gain with three minutes left before halftime. By then, Rifle had built a 33-0 lead.
“Murphy’s Law. Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” Northridge coach Jeff Fulton said. “It looked like we didn’t even coach our kids, and I promise you that we did.”
Rifle also switched up its special-teams personnel prior to the game, which gave Clark the opportunity to return the opening kickoff. He took the kick at Rifle’s 10 and was met by a Northridge player, who tried to strip the ball instead of bringing Clark to the ground.
Clark broke away, emerging from the crowd of players and running from there untouched into the end zone to give the Bears the lead for good just 16 seconds into the game.
“We as running backs always keep talking about keeping our feet going no matter what,” Clark said.
And the Bears kept the scoring going, too.
After Clark’s kickoff return for a score, Rifle forced Northridge into a three-and-out possession that ended with Brenden Fulton being sacked for the first of four times by the Rifle defense. Fulton punted, and Rifle had prime field position following a 17-yard return from Layton Stutsman that set the Bears up on the Northridge 30. Five plays later, Stutsman, the Bears’ quarterback, ran in from eight yards out for a 14-0 Rifle lead with 8:36 left in the first quarter.
Clark made it 20-0 just a little more than a minute later with his 47-yard jaunt, and TD runs from Clark and Brooks Pressler made it 33-0. The Bears tacked on two more touchdowns before halftime to start the running-clock mercy rule.
“They’re a really good football team. I remember the game two years ago,” Clark said, referring to Rifle’s second-round victory over the Roughriders in 2012. “It should be a close game just like that one was.”
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