Rifle Bears dominate Summit Tigers 59-22
The Rifle Bears continued their winning ways, staying at the top of the Western Slope League 3A standings, with a resounding 59-22 homecoming victory over the Summit Tigers on Friday night at Bears’ Stadium.
Playing stingy defense and fundamentally sound offense throughout the conference encounter, the Bears looked every bit the part of one of the state’s best 3A teams from the very beginning.
Taking the opening kickoff and chewing up almost half of the initial quarter of play, Rifle steadily marched down the field, keeping the ball close to the ground before junior running back Tanner Vines darted through the middle of the line for a 22-yard touchdown run to put a capper on the impressive drive. The PAT by kicker Eduardo Ruiz made the score 7-0.
Rifle’s defense then smothered Summit on just three plays and the Bears took possession of the ball once again. It took just four plays this time for Vines to run 12 yards to make it 14-0. The highlight of the second Rifle drive was a 32-yard pass play from senior quarterback Luke Ellis to fellow senior Colton Parsons.
The third possession of the game proved to be another charm for the Bears — albeit a quick one — as Joel Lopez took the ball 65 yards on the first play to make the score 22-0 following a 2-point conversion. There was still 1:32 left in the first quarter.
Rifle wasn’t finished yet with its lightning warfare as Ellis took the ball into the end zone on a 2-yard quarterback sneak to make it 30-0 with 11:19 left until halftime. A 20-yard run by Vines and a short carry by senior Camron Shepherd helped to set up the score.
Wondering who would be crowned homecoming king and queen was the only suspense left for the Rifle crowd at this point, but Summit did respond quickly to the Bears’ attempt at a knockout. Taking the ensuing kickoff, Tiger senior Jason Tilley took the ball on the bounce at his own 5-yard line and, following a few missed tackles, raced 95 yards to the end zone as Summit got on the scoreboard at 30-6.
Before the anticipated halftime festivities could commence, Ellis lofted a long and picture-perfect strike to Lopez, who managed to stay on his feet long enough to tumble into the west end zone to give the Bears a comfortable 44-16 lead at the intermission and put them well on the way to keeping their WSL record unblemished with three key games left in the season.
Coach Damon Wells and his Bears tacked on scores in their first two opportunities of the second half as Shepherd found the end zone on a touchdown run and Lopez, following an interception by Rifle defender Clay Bumgardner, raced 46 yards for a score as the large lead swelled to 59-16 with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
Rifle (6-1, 2-0 WSL) will hit the road for the next two weeks, embarking on a close-to-Halloween tour of the underworld as the Bears will take on the Eagle Valley Devils next Friday in Gypsum, then head to Glenwood the following week to tangle with the rival Demons.
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In a fraction of a second I went from a full sprint to skidding across the ground — pea-sized gravel gashing my knees and elbows, turning them into strawberry crisp.