Rifle falls to Grand Junction Central | PostIndependent.com

Rifle falls to Grand Junction Central

Phil SandovalGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Grand Junction Free Press/Buddy Bear Rifle's Derek Kassak hurries over to make sure Grand Junction Central quarterback Clay Kame is down during a non-league game Thursday night in Grand Junction. Rifle lost, 24-7.

GRAND JUNCTION – Sometimes things football teams discover in non-conference games results in success during conference play.That’s what Rifle hopes to draw from Thursday’s 24-7 loss to Class 4A Grand Junction Central at Stocker Stadium.”We often times talk that our singular goal is to get in the playoffs. And to get in the playoffs league games matter,” said Bears head coach Damon Wells. “But tonight mattered a lot because we wanted to know if our kids would fight when the chips were down. Because in our league you always face a lot of adversity.”

In that department, Rifle (3-2 overall, 2-1 Class 3A Western Slope League) passed the test.Held scoreless the last seven quarters and down 17-0 late in the third quarter, the Bears’ offense awakened. Running back Brian Key culminated a nine-play, 67-yard scoring drive by dashing into the end zone with 8 minutes and 8 seconds left in the game. The touchdown drive featured many of the weapons that’s made Rifle successful the past few seasons.

First-down runs of 15 and 12 yards from Tyler Chapman and Daniel Maldonado took the ball inside the Central 35. A crucial Hazen Moss 12-yard pass followed by Key’s 17-yard, drive-sustaining first-down run moved Rifle from the Warriors 21 to the 4. A play later, the Bears trimmed Central’s lead to 17-7.However, the elation on Rifle’s sideline was brief. It took Central running back Nolan Curtis a scant three plays after the kickoff to erase the glow of Key’s TD from the rejuvenated Bears.

Operating from the Warrior 35-yard line after Rifle’s kickoff bounced out of bounds, two Curtis runs of 5 yards each put the ball at the 45. On the next play, the Central junior found an opening on the left side. And he sped untouched to the end zone.Curtis’ 55-yard touchdown and Jeff Krizman’s extra point with 6:46 remaining ended the night’s scoring.Central (3-3, 1-0 4A Southwestern League) took a 14-0 lead into halftime, with quarterback Clay Kame finding tight end Ross McGee on a 3-yard TD pass in the first quarter and lineman Zach Rosales recovering a Rifle fumble and returning 30 yards for a score in the second.

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