Battle Mountain falls to Rifle on late field goal
RIFLE – Agony, utter agony.
Rifle’s Marco Gutierrez booted a 45-yard field goal with 6 seconds left after the Bears converted on an improbable fourth down during its final drive to hand Battle Mountain a 22-21 loss Friday in the league opener for both teams.
The Huskies (3-1 overall and 0-1 in the 3A Slope) rallied twice in the fourth quarter with touchdown drives to take leads of 15-12 with 6:58 left and 21-19 with 1:28 remaining in the game, only to see Rifle snatch away a win.
The Bears started their last drive with 1:28, returning the ball to their 37. They didn’t get much until fourth-and-5 on their 42 when Rifle quarterback Adam Rice somehow eluded a sack and lofted a 26-yard pass to Taylor Webb.
On the Huskies’ 32-yard line, Webb spiked the ball, setting up second down. The Bears gave the ball to their workhorse Ryan Moeller for four yards. Rifle’s Bradon Kittle, who had all three Bears’ touchdowns, carried the ball for no gain. Rifle rushed its field-goal team onto the field, and Gutierrez’s kick from 45 yards was apparently true.
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(Full disclosure: The author was listening to the KZYR radio broadcast, and announcers Steve Leigh and Weez were somewhat dubious that the kick was good. Your mileage may vary. There will likely be a lot of discussion about this in the next week.)
Regardless of one’s interpretation, the Huskies did blow a few opportunities earlier in the game. With 4:55 left in the first half, Battle Mountain fumbled the ball through the Rifle end zone on what could have been a touchdown. The Huskies also had the ball on the Bears’ 6 on the final play of the first half and did not go for the field goal, instead turning the ball over on downs.
Again on the Huskies’ first possession of the second half, Battle Mountain went for it on fourth down from the Bears’ 11, not opting for another field-goal try. That said, the Huskies were 1-for-2 on extra points. Either way, that’s three deep trips into Rifle territory resulting in no points.
However one looks at it, the Gutierrez field goal wiped out a hearty effort on both sides of the ball by Battle Mountain. The Huskies defense slowed down a Bears’ offense which was averaging 350 yards of rushing per game, while the offense seemed to come up with the big plays when required in the fourth quarter.
Battle Mountain drove 70 yards in four minutes to erase a 12-6 Rifle lead. Reeve Sanders jump-started it with a 32-yard scamper and Zach Guida finished it with a 7-yard rumble. Guida also did the two-point conversion, giving the Huskies a 15-12 lead.
Adding to the category of bizarre things that usually seem to happen when the Huskies play Rifle, on the ensuing drive, Mohler fumbled the ball on a run from the Battle Mountain 40. As it turned out, Kittle was there to recover the ball and keep advancing the ball down to the Huskies’ 9 with 3:20 to go. Kittle scored two plays later.
That still didn’t seem for phase Battle Mountain. Sanders and Guida plowed their way down the field with ease for what seemed to be the game-winning drive. Chris Libertini plunged in from 1 yard and the Huskies seemed to have the win.
Battle Mountain will try to come back next week at Glenwood Springs.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Battle Mountain football
Huskies 0 7 0 14
Bears 6 0 0 16
R- Brandon Kittle, 34-yard run, KNG, 2:45
BM- Reeve Sanders, 5-yard run, KG, 9:47
R- Kittle, 4-yard touchdown, Con NG, 10:54
BM- Zach Guida, 7-yard run, Con good, 6:58
R- Kittle, 6-yard run, KG, 2:55
BM- Chris Libertini, 1-yard run, KNG, 1:28
R- Marco Gutierrez, 45-yard field goal, 0:06