Bears go by air, beat Eagle Valley, 26-0 | VailDaily.com

Bears go by air, beat Eagle Valley, 26-0

Eagle Valley's Mathew Sanchez takes a kickoff return to the outside of the field during the first quarter of their game against Rifle Bears Friday night in Gypsum.
Justin Q. McCarty | Special to the Daily |

GYPSUM — It’s a world gone mad, people.

Rifle passed its way to a 26-0 win over Eagle Valley on Friday night at John Ramunno Field in Gypsum in the 3A Slope opener for both teams.

The Bears, better known for a crunching rushing game that’s been the terror of the Slope, used two big pass plays from quarterback Ethan Strouse to Tyler Bosshardt to grab a 14-0 lead early in the first half and cruised home from there.

BEARS AIR ATTACK

Eagle Valley’s defense was stout against the Rifle run in the first quarter and was helping the Devils win field possession. Pinned back on the Bears’ 13, Rifle dialed up a shocker — Strouse to Bosshardt for 87 yards and the first score of the game with 1:13 left in the first quarter.

While the Eagle Valley bench appeared to want a pass interference call on its ensuing possession — Noah Hermosillo seemed to be hit early by a Rifle defender on second down of that series — the Devils went three-and-out.

The Devils’ defense got Rifle into a bad position, third-and-8 from its own 47, but the Bears went to the air again with the same combination for 53 yards and a 14-0 lead.

Rifle’s last scoring drive of the half was traditional Bears football with a healthy dose of power running from junior Blaine Vance. Yet, it was the pass again that rescued Rifle on third-and-8 from the Devils’ 38. Strouse hooked up with Jacob Boone for 11 yards to keep the march going.

Ty Leyba capped that drive with an 8-yard scamper with 1:31 left in the half.

CHANCES FOR DEVILS

Eagle Valley hoped to capture a little of the two-minute magic it showed last week against Basalt before halftime. Devils quarterback Garrett Martin dialed a 17-yard gain to Bryce Muehlethaler. Martin’s next pass, however, was tipped and Rifle’s Leyba came up with the interception, sending the Bears into the break at 20-0.

The Devils appeared to have a promising drive going to start the second half. Jay Neal had two good runs and then Martin completed an 11-yarder to senior Marc Williams. Martin called his own number on fourth-and 3 for a 16-yard scramble to the Rifle 6. Rifle would stop the Devils on the 2 with the Bears’ Jacob Cossette applying the pressure on Martin, forcing an incomplete pass on fourth down.

The No. 4-ranked Bears (4-0, 1-0 in the Slope) return home for a big game against Delta, No. 9 in the current CHSAA poll, while Eagle Valley (3-1, 0-1) heads over the pass to take on Summit County.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.