Hard as a Brock: Rifle RB Brock Clark helps Bears rush past Eagle Valley
RIFLE — Eagle Valley High School’s football team had its chances to hang with third-ranked Rifle at Bears Stadium on Friday night. Brock Clark’s effort helped ensure the Devils never caught up.
Clark, the Bears’ senior running back, rushed for 219 yards and three touchdowns to go with an interception on defense during the Bears’ 35-12 victory in the Class 3A Western Slope League opener for both teams.
Rifle finished with 381 rushing yards and 414 yards of total offense against the Devils (3-1 overall, 0-1 league). The Devils twice had moments where they looked like they would hang with the Bears, which is when Rifle’s offense — and defense — stepped up.
“It wasn’t just Brock,” Rifle coach Damon Wells said. “The one great thing about our team is that each week, it’s someone different who steps up and makes a big play for us.”
The loss for the Devils extended Eagle Valley’s winless drought against the Bears. Longtime Devils coach John Ramunno said his team hasn’t beaten Rifle “at least since we moved up to 3A” prior to the 2004 season.
Rifle (4-0, 1-0) had beaten all of its previous three opponents by a combined score of 182-19. At the beginning of the game, it looked like Rifle was on its way to another laugher.
Clark took a handoff from Rifle quarterback Layton Stutsman on the game’s opening play and raced 60 yards to the Devils’ 20, setting up Stutsman’s 6-yard TD run two plays later. The Devils used a big play to nearly pull even with the Bears not long afterward, though, as Riley Rowles scampered 41 yards into the endzone off a Harrison Stevens screen pass, bringing Eagle Valley within 7-6 with 8 minutes, 38 seconds left in the second quarter after the point-after kick from Xavier Mendoza was blocked.
That’s when the Bears began to pull away. Rifle responded quickly when Austin Knight’s 42-yard kickoff return set up an eight-play, 52-yard scoring drive capped by Clark’s 15-yard TD run.
Rifle’s defense forced the Devils to turn the ball over on downs on their next possession after Rowles was tackled in the backfield on a fake punt at the Devils’ 48, and the Bears went up 21-6 seven plays later on Stutsman’s 12-yard strike to Knight, who caught the pass in double coverage.
Eagle Valley almost struck back at the start of the second half, though. The Devils engineered a 77-yard drive that gave them a fourth-and-2 at the Bears’ 3. Stevens bobbled the handoff in the backfield, however, and it bounced all the way back to the Bears’ 17 to end the Devils scoring threat.
That’s when Clark stepped up big again, breaking off and 83-yard TD run to put the Bears ahead 28-6 when, just minutes earlier, the Devils were on the verge of cutting their deficit to single digits.
“I’ve got to give credit to our defensive line for the push they made up front to stop that drive,” Clark said. “And then, my run. Well, anyone could have made that run. That’s how big the hole was for me to run through.”
Cristian Agular added a 9-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to get the Devils back on the scoreboard. Clark’s 1-yard TD run later in the fourth capped the scoring.
Rifle continues league play next Friday at No. 2-ranked Delta, which defeated Steamboat Springs 55-0 on Friday in Delta.
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It may be by a technicality, but the Valley Valkyries 7s rugby club were the de facto champions of their hosted tournament Saturday.