Sanderson, Rauman pace Bears
CARBONDALE – The Rifle football team’s bread and butter is its running game. The Bears showed Friday night they can work well through the air as well.And a balanced attack is even better.Rifle quarterback Kyle Sanderson was a perfect 11-for-11 passing and Rocky Rauman amassed 159 of the Class 3A Bears’ 238 yards on the ground in a 42-13 nonleague victory over 2A Roaring Fork here Friday night.”It loosened things up a little bit,” said Rifle coach Darrel Gorham of the passing attack. “It helps out so we’re not just one-dimensional.”
The passing game did more than loosen things up. Sanderson threw for 134 yards, with 110 of those yards finding Zach LaCount.The quarterback also scored on a pair of short sneaks.The Rams opened the game by stopping Rifle on a fourth-and-short after Rifle ran the ball on the first four plays of the game. The Rams quickly jumped out to a 6-0 lead after Roaring Fork quarterback Aaron Markham found Parker Nieslanik for a 2-yard touchdown strike.Sanderson started to “loosen up” Roaring Fork with a nine-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to go up 7-6. He hit LaCount three times on the drive – all for first downs – for a total of 51 yards on the march.Then the Rifle running game took hold.”They always come out fired up, and we just had to smack them in the mouth a couple of times,” said running back Casie Dunlap.
“We decided to keep our feet and stop tripping over people,” added Rauman. “And the line was blocking good.”The Bears upped their advantage to 13-6 with one of Sanderson’s sneaks. Roaring Fork threatened to even the game in the closing seconds of the first half, but its drive stalled in the final minute of play with three straight incomplete passes.Roaring Fork’s hopes of an upset came crashing down on the opening series of the second half. A solid drive ended quickly on a fumbled exchange that Rifle recovered at its own 42. Rifle converted the turnover into a 15-yard touchdown catch by LaCount and Roaring Fork didn’t have an answer for the Bears’ offense the rest of the game. The Bears’ size and depth advantage began to show as Rifle scored on its next three drives. The Rams managed only one first down on its next three drives.
“They came out and just executed perfectly,” Roaring Fork coach Tory Jensen said. “They are physical, heads up and well-coached.”Markham finished with 209 yards passing, an interception and two touchdowns – both to Nieslanik. Rams running back Jake Bowman racked up 80 yards on the ground and 107 yards receiving in the losing effort.”This was good for our kids,” Jensen said. “The kids stepped up and answered the bell. We played for a half, now we’ve got to play for the whole game.”Both teams return to important league games Friday. Rifle (5-2 overall, 3-2 conference) is in a three-way tie for third place in the Class 3A Western Slope Conference and hosts second-place Moffat County (6-1, 5-1). Roaring Fork (5-2, 3-1) is one of three teams atop the Class 2A WSC with one conference loss and travels to winless Cedaredge.
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