RIFLE (11/12/11) — When the most significant play on offense in the second half of Rifle\'s 14-7 first-round 3A state playoff win over Roosevelt is a penalty that wipes out a lost fumble, it\'s a certainty that the defense gets a lot of credit for moving the Bears into next Saturday\'s quarterfinal home game with Windsor.
The Bear offense definitely did its share in the first half, with Ryan Moeller and Brandon Kittle each scoring an explosive touchdown and Rifle running up 213 yards in 21 attempts on the way to a 14-0 halftime lead.
Meanwhile the defense limited the Rough Riders, who had three backs with 600-plus yards this season and a quarterback who passed for 800 with just four interceptions, to 109 total yards in the first half. Roosevelt\'s defense adjusted at halftime and held the Bears scoreless the rest of the way and to just 57 yards on 23 rushing attempts in the final two quarters. Another indicator is Rifle punted only once in the game\'s first 32 minutes, four times in the last.
Rifle had a chance to put the game away when the Bears recovered two Roosevelt fumbles near midfield, still leading, 14-0 in the third quarter, but the first attempt was thwarted by penalties and another procedure penalty on the next opportunity led to yielding the ball on downs at the 29 with 51 seconds left.
Roosevelt finally solved the Bear defense, when Marcus Holguin kick-started the Riders offense with a 16 yard run on the last play of the that quarter. The 5-7 senior running back, who\'d only carried twice in the first half despite amassing 750 yards for the season, wound up gaining 56 of the 81 yards in the Roosevelt scoring drive with Juan Sanchez going in from the one with 10 minutes left in the game. The extra point kick by Mark Rios cut the lead to 14-7.
The Bears responded by driving the ball to the six yard line, but Moeller fumbled and Roosevelt recovered. Video replays later showed the junior, who had nearly 2200 yards rushing with 20 touchdowns, was down before the ball came out, but nevertheless, it was the Bears\' second turnover of the afternoon.
Linebackers Cody Beauford and Alex Copeland led an active defense that forced Roosevelt to punt from its ten yard line, giving Rifle another opportunity to seal the game\'s outcome as they moved to the Riders\' 39 yard line. Then the fumble that was not a fumble occurred when quarterback Adam Rice dropped the snap, recovered by Roosevelt\'s Mason Marick, but officials had flagged the Bears for illegal procedure, thus the ball was dead and still belonged to Rifle.
The Bears were unable to make a first down and punted on their final two possessions, but Taylor Webb, Kellin Leigh, Zach Bare, AJ Cordova, Beauford, Kittle, Copeland and company turned away the Rough Riders, twice nearly picking off quarterback Spencer Urban before a fourth-down Holguin reverse came up short at midfield with 45 seconds left.
In the early going, it looked like the Bears would rush their way to an easier victory, as they scored on their first possession of the game, driving 81 yards in 9 plays with Kittle taking a 14-yard romp around left end for the touchdown. Marco Gutierrez made it 7-0 when his PAT was blocked but had enough to fall over the crossbar with 5:13 to play in the first quarter.
Rice threw an interception near the end of the quarter and Roosevelt put three first-downs together in moving to the Bear 19, but a fourth down pass was incomplete, and Rifle answered with another 81 yard scoring drive — on only five plays — with Moeller finishing it on a 27-yard burst off tackle. The kick was perfect this time for a 14-0 lead with 5:30 left in the first half.
Moeller, who had 126 yards at halftime on 12 carries, was held in check in the second half, but still totaled 168 yards on 24 attempts. Kittle also averaged ten yards a carry in the first half (83 yards in 8 attempts), and wound up with 100 on 17 rushes. Rice was 3 of 7 for 33 yards. His counterpart, Urban, finished 7-of-17 for 52 yards and was intercepted by Beauford near the end of the first half.
Fourth-seeded Rifle (11-0), by winning a coin flip, will play at home next Saturday, November 19, at 1 p.m., hosting Windsor (10-1), which won the Tri-Valley League and its first-round game at home with Holy Family (8-3), 41-14.
The number one 3A seed, which was on Rifle\'s side of the bracket, Canon City (10-1) was upset at home, 7-6, by number 16, Frederick (8-3), which lost its last regular season game 40-0 to Windsor. Battle Mountain (9-2) lost a shootout to D\'Evelyn (9-2), which will play Frederick next week, 40-38. On the other side of the bracket 10th ranked Palisade (9-2) upset number seven Evergreen (9-2) on the road, 35-27.
First round 3A scores:
#16 Frederick beat #1 Canon City 7-6
#8 D\'Evelyn beat #9 Battle Mountain 40-38
#4 Rifle beat #13 Roosevelt 14-7
#5 Windsor beat #12 Holy Family 41-14
#3 Silver Creek beat #14 Palmer Ridge 28-24
#11 Lewis Palmer beat #6 Vista Ridge 39-33
#10 Palisade beat #7 Evergreen 35-27
#2 Kennedy beat #15 Mountain View 34-27