Rifle downs Demons 40-23 to finish season 10-0
Perfection is never easy. It’s taken months of preparation, practice and desire for Rifle to finish the 2002 regular season with a 10-0 record.
Glenwood Springs reminded the Bears of just how difficult it is to achieve perfection Friday night.
The Demons, who had “nothing to lose,” according to coach Craig Denney, gave Rifle fits before the Bears found their offense in the second half.
The Bears broke a 7-all halftime tie by scoring four touchdowns in 12 minutes for a 40-23 win in Western Slope Conference regular-season finale at Stubler Memorial Field. The victory secured Rifle’s first unbeaten season in school history.
“What our kids had to do was go out and start making some plays. Once we started doing that we were fine,” said coach Darrel Gorham.
And when it came to making plays, Rifle had an abundance of game-breakers.
Troy Weiss, Aaron Jewell and Jason Enewold each had roles in the second half outburst.
Weiss had 175 rushing yards in the game, and his touchdown runs of 6 and 11 yards broke the game open.
The junior’s first score improved Rifle’s lead to 21-7 after Anthony Alfini scored with 8:57 left in the third quarter. His second TD gave the Bears an insurmountable 21-point lead.
“In the second half Rifle came out and did what (they) do,” said Denney. “They have good backs and a good scheme, and they just get things done.”
Jewell nailed the lid on any comeback hopes the Demons had by snaring a 14-yard touchdown pass in the end zone with eight minutes remaining in the contest.
Earlier in the fourth quarter Jewell’s pick of a Chris Toler pass set a new single-season school pass-interception record. The interception was Jewell’s ninth of the year.
Enewold connected on 6-of-8 passes for 95 yards along with Jewell’s touchdown in the second half after failing to complete a pass prior to halftime.
The Demons, however, never laid down for the heavily favored Bears.
“I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy game,” Gorham said. “(We’ve) got good players, they came out and they played really hard.”
From the onset, the Demons served notice this was not going to be a gimme game.
In the first quarter, the Demon defense stopped the Bears at the one-yard line on a fourth-and-goal play after 16 plays.
Rifle responded with the game’s first score, a 3-yard keeper by Enewold, a series later.
Then it was Glenwood’s turn to return the favor.
Pass receptions by Mike Hoban and Cody Brickell of 32 and 11 yards, respectively, gained first downs. That, combined with a Bear pass interference penalty moved the ball to Rifle’s 18.
Three plays later, the Demons were facing a fourth-and-one call from the Bear 11. Toler called Brickell’s number.
The senior running back responded with a five-yard gain.
With a fresh set of downs to work with, Toler found Andrew Blake in the back part of the end zone just before intermission.
The five-yard catch, combined with Joe Schreiner’s extra point kick, sent shock waves across Stubler Memorial Field.
Maybe this was the night that 11 straight years of losses to the Bears would be erased.
Rifle wouldn’t allow it.
The Bears shoved their way to the end zone in less than three minutes after the second-half kickoff.
Rifle’s method wasn’t pretty. They rammed the ball down the Demon defense’s throat.
The Bears gained yardage on seven straight running plays, for the tie-breaking score.
Weiss had first down gains of 14, 11 and 34 yards before Alfini capped the drive with his one-yard run.
Down 34-7 after three more Rifle touchdowns, Glenwood rallied to make the score respectable.
With 8:32 left, Toler found Blake for a 40-yard gain, rushed for 11 yards, then scored on a 19-yard keeper.
The sophomore added the game’s final score on a 9-yard pass to Brock Milhorn with 16 seconds to go.
Glenwood finishes the season at 5-5 and with high hopes for the future.
Denney said, “We’re so close to getting to the next level. With the kids we’ve got coming back and the talent we’ve got coming back – that can definitely happen. You see good things with these kids.”
Rifle has the 3A state playoffs to contend with.
The Bears start the journey toward the state championship next week at home against Fountain-Fort Carson, the No. 4 seed from the Southern Conference.
All first-round playoff games, according to the Colorado High School Activities Association, must be played by Nov. 9.
The date and time of the game will be set by the two schools on Monday.
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