Glenwood edges Rifle by one in thriller
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
RIFLE, Colorado – That’s more like it.
After blowouts in 2007 and 2008, the Rifle-Glenwood Springs rivalry regained its typical intensity and intrigue on Friday.
In a game in which the outcome remained in doubt until the final minutes, the defending Class 3A state champion Demons held on for a 20-19 win in Rifle.
As the score suggests, it took a lot of fighting to secure that win, though. Glenwood, which won the teams’ previous two meetings by a combined score of 87-0, had to weather a late Bear rally.
“Rifle’s a very good football team,” said senior Garrett Kobobel, whose Demons had Rifle down, 20-10, with 9 minutes, 23 seconds to go. “I have so much respect for them after this game. They cleaned up their mistakes from previous games and they came out here and gave us a run.”
Rifle entered the night with a 2-4 overall record and 1-3 mark in the 3A Western Slope League. The Bears were also fresh off a 34-0 loss at Steamboat Springs last weekend.
With an offense that threw out a bevy of different looks and a stingy brand of defense, Rifle crept closer to reaching its potential against the Demons.
“We’re not even a step away,” said Rifle senior quarterback Joe Burgess, who shared snaps with fellow senior James Martinez on Friday and caught a fourth-quarter touchdown pass that brought the Bears to within one point. “We’re a half-step away. We’re one missed tackle away. We’re right on the brink of being great, from going from good to great and turning it around.”
It certainly didn’t look as if any such turnaround were in the offing for Rifle early in Friday’s game, as Glenwood put points on the board on just its second offensive play.
After Trey Fox intercepted a Martinez pass on Rifle’s first play from scrimmage, Luke Jacob found Josh Galvan in the right corner of the end zone with a 29-yard strike.
Just 52 seconds into the game, Glenwood led 7-0.
Defense ruled the next several possessions before the Bears got behind its ground game and answered back. Tyrel Lenard capped a six-play, 64-yard drive with an 8-yard TD run at the 5:38 mark in the second quarter.
And then came a freakish ending to the half.
With enough time remaining for just one more play, Luke Jacob took a snap out of the shotgun, scrambled briefly and then whipped a pass toward the end zone, where Kobobel and Rifle’s Jordan Copeland were positioned for a jump ball.
Copeland got a hand on the ball, which is typically a good thing. But Brandon Stokley-esque fortune intervened on the Demons’ behalf, with the ball deflecting off Copeland’s fingers and into the arms of Kobobel.
“Coach called rocket, which is nine routes down the field,” Kobobel said. “I ran down there as fast as I could and was sitting in the end zone. I’m glad Luke saw me. He hung it up there and the guy went to pick it off and I jumped over him and took it right out of his hands.”
And, just like that, Glenwood had coaxed something positive out of an otherwise disappointing half.
Defense again ruled in the early stages of the second half.
Dru Marlow booted a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter to make the score 14-10.
Glenwood extended its lead to 20-10 less than three minutes into the fourth quarter when Tyler Thulson darted through a hole and broke away the defense for a 54-yard score.
“I just busted through the line and tried not to look back,” Thulson said.
Rifle came roaring back, getting a 31-yard field goal from Marlow on the ensuing possession to pull within a TD.
The Bears’ defense followed up by holding Glenwood on the next series. Rifle’s prospects took a turn for the better when Demon punter Carson Wilde had to drop to a knee to field a snap, forcing a turnover-on-downs that gave the Bears the ball at the Glenwood 15-yard line.
Rifle took advantage when, on the second play of the resulting possession, Martinez hit Burgess with a 20-yard scoring pass. The latter ran a stop-and-go route to shed a defensive back as he sped toward the end zone to haul in the pass with 4:13 left in the game.
Marlow missed the extra point, though, leaving Rifle a point shy.
The Bears got the ball back with 3:30 to go, but a penalty and a bad snap that resulted in lost yards prevented them from reaching field-goal range.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids,” Rifle head coach Ryan Sulkowski said. “Glenwood, give them credit. They do what they do. They’re the defending state champs. They know how to win. They found a way to win.”
Martinez led Sulkowski’s Bears with 56 yards rushing on 17 carries. He completed 4 of 8 passes for 32 yards. Burgess hit on 4 of 4 passes for 33 yards and Lenard chipped in 51 yards on the ground on 14 carries.
Thulson led Glenwood, now 5-2 overall and 5-0 in the 3A WSL, with 105 yards on 19 carries. Jacob rushed for 46 yards on 20 carries and finished with 105 yards on 7-of-14 passing.
“We have so many things to improve on,” Thulson said. We just have too many mistakes on punts and fumbles. We just need to pick up our fundamentals. It was sloppy.”
Glenwood plays host to Palisade next week, while Rifle is at Battle Mountain.
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