Rifle defeats Moffat County 52-26, wins 2A Western Slope League championship
Needing a win Friday night on the road at Moffat County, and a loss by the Aspen Skiers to the Basalt Longhorns to win the 2A Western Slope League championship in its first season in the league, the Rifle Bears football team easily dispatched the Bulldogs 52-26, and watched as the Longhorns knocked off the Skiers 27-6, handing the Bears the league championship outright.
Rifle found itself needing some help from the Longhorns after dropping a 20-19 decision at the final whistle two weeks ago. The Bears bounced back in a big way the last two weeks, downing the Longhorns 35-14 last week before pummeling the Bulldogs on the road Friday night.
“We just hoped to make our very best effort tonight, and I think we definitely did that,” said Damon Wells, Rifle’s Head Coach. “We’ve got seven more days until the playoffs, which is seven more days with our boys.”
Against the Bulldogs, senior Tanner Vines started the scoring for Rifle with a 45-yard rushing touchdown just under four minutes into the game, as junior Levi Warfel tacked on the 2-point conversion, giving Rifle an early 8-0 lead. Moffat County responded with a quick touchdown as Colby Beaver from Cale Scranton for a touchdown, but the 2-point conversion failed, keeping Rifle in front 8-6 midway through the first quarter.
Vines responded right back with a 4-yard touchdown run set up by his own 60-yard run, making it 15-6 Rifle late in the first.
Warfel then picked off Beaver and raced 50 yards for the pick-6, giving Rifle a 22-6 lead, before a turnover on downs by Moffat led to a 4-yard touchdown from Vines once again, putting Rifle in front 29-6 with 6:52 left before halftime.
Scranton then hauled in a 22-yard touchdown from Beaver to make it 29-12 Rifle before a 30-yard field goal from Eddie Ruiz gave the Bears a 32-12 lead.
Vines added a 17-yard rushing touchdown to make it 39-12, while junior Holden Stutsman scored on a quarterback keeper to make it 45-12.
Moffat’s Connor Etzler hauled in a 51-yard touchdown to get the Bulldogs back on track offensively, pulling to within 45-19, but the Bears scored from 1-yard out to make it 52-19. A Hail Mary from Beaver to Scranton from 50 yards out capped off the scoring, giving Rifle the 52-26 win and the league championship.
The league championship comes in Rifle’s first season in the 2A Western Slope League after dropping down from 3A play.
“They’re great boys, and they’re why we do this whole thing,” said Wells.
Rifle now awaits the 2A Colorado High School Activities Association’s state playoff bracket release. Rifle currently sits No. 8 in the 2A RPI rankings. The top 8 host a first round matchup.
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