Eagle Valley falls at Rifle; playoff hopes fade
Vail, CO Colorado
RIFLE ” Tyler Chapman and Hazen Moss combined for 270 yards rushing and four touchdowns to lead the Rifle Bears to a critical 34-12 3A Slope victory over Eagle Valley on Friday at Bears Stadium.
The victory kept the Bears’ playoff hopes alive, moving into a tie for third place in the conference standings with Steamboat Springs at 4-2. Rifle is scheduled to play Steamboat Springs next week. Eagle Valley dropped to 3-3 in the league and is on the wrong end of tiebreakers with both the Sailors and the Bears.
“We didn’t present it as a must-win game. We didn’t,” said Rifle head coach Damon Wells. “We know the Western Slope League and we know how tough it is. Anything can happen.”
But it was important.
And the Bears responded ” big time.
Chapman carried the ball nine times for 130 yards and scored two touchdowns ” a 14-yard run for the Bears’ first score and a dazzling 60-yard scamper in the third quarter that put the game away.
Moss rushed for 140 yards on 16 carries and also scored a pair of touchdowns, including a dazzling 46-yard score in the second period when he spun out of one tackle and broke two others.
With the dynamic duo leading the way, the Bears played smash-mouth football and the Devils couldn’t stop them. Rifle had 356 yards in total offense ” all on the ground.
In fact, the Bears didn’t even attempt a single pass.
“We always want to run the ball first,” said Wells. “That’s nothing new.”
But the defense played pretty well, too. The Bears bent but didn’t break most of the night ” holding the Devils to 124 yards in total offense. The Bears had two interceptions and recovered a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, and twice stopped the Devils on downs deep in Rifle territory.
In fact, it was one of those interceptions that set up their first score.
Dano Fugita intercepted a pass from Hunter Blevins on the Devils’ first possession. Four plays later Chapman scored his first touchdown. But the Bears missed the extra point attempt.
Keeping it close
Eagle Valley countered with an 11-play drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Pena Woolsey. The Devils missed the extra point.
The tie didn’t last long. In fact, the Bears broke it open with two touchdowns in a 16-second span.
The Bears raced 65 yards on three plays, the big one being Moss’ 46-yard score with 16 seconds left in the first quarter.
Then, the Devils coughed up the ball on the first play of their next possession and Brian Key returned it 45 yards for a touchdown.
“The funny thing is, we challenged our defense before the game to score a touchdown. We haven’t done that all year,” Wells said.
In the second half, Moss scored his second touchdown on a 6-yard run that capped a 12-play, 67-yard scoring drive that ate up most of the period.
Eagle Valley countered with a defensive gem that kept the Devils in the game when Pavel Pavlov returned a fumble 99 yards for a touchdown.
But one play later, Chapman put it away with his last score.
Eagle Valley returns home Friday for Battle Mountain.