No. 2 Rifle rolls over Devils, 54-14
GYPSUM – The Eagle Valley Devils learned a lesson about 3A Western Slope football in their league opener Friday night from a team at the top of the class – visiting No. 2-ranked Rifle.The Bears capitalized on six Devils turnovers and pounded the ball up front all night long en route to a 54-14 win.The biggest Eagle Valley highlight of the night was a nifty 77-yard touchdown run from A-back Sean Matheson with nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter and the Devils trailing, 54-7. After stopping quickly at the line of scrimmage to evade one tackler, the junior bolted into the Bears’ secondary and shook one more tackler before taking off on a sprint for the end zone.
“It was a pretty big hole,” Matheson said. “There was good blocking up front. That’s all.”The Devils other score came on a 15-yard run from senior Andy Johnson in the third quarter to cap off an eight-play, 75-yard drive. Johnson sprinted around the right side on a sweep to cross the goal line and finally put the Devils on the scoreboard with two minutes to go in the third after Rifle had cruised out to a 48-0 leadAside from those two bright spots, it was a dim night for coach John Ramunno’s team which dropped to 0-2 on the season.The Bears were actually the first team to turn over the ball on the turf in the first quarter when Casie Dunlap fumbled at Eagle Valley’s 45, but Rifle recovered and then proceeded to march down the field for a touchdown.The drive was keyed by the running of the senior duo of Dunlap and Rocky Rauman who scored on a two-yard run.Rifle then tried some trickery, kicking an onside kick which they recovered at the Eagle Valley 40 to put coach Darrel Gorham’s offense back in business.
Gorham said the onside kick was something which he and his coaching staff thought could surprise Eagle Valley so he went for the momentum-shifting play early.”We’re just trying to do some stuff that people are giving us,” Gorham said. “We’re not trying to do anything that we wouldn’t normally do. If another team were to give us that, we would take it as well. We needed to come out and execute well.”The Bears stalled, however, gaining only one yard in three plays and then were stuffed on a fake punt attempt which turned the ball back over to Eagle Valley at the Rifle 35.Devils sophomore quarterback Mike Medsker fumbled the ball on the next play, though, and Rifle got rolling again, capping off a 30-yard, four-play drive with a 22-yard option run to Rauman off a pitch from quarterback Kyle Sanderson which Rauman took to the house. Another Medsker fumble on Eagle Valley’s next series led to another Rifle score and when Matheson was stripped of the ball by swarm of Rifle defenders on the following kickoff, the Bears proceeded to land the knockout punch.
Starting from the Devils’ 16 yard line, Sanderson lobbed a pass to senior Jordan Robinson in the corner of the end zone to put his team up 28-0 with 1:28 go in the first quarter.”We really just gave them the game,” Ramunno said. “There was a 21-point turn there real quick with the fumbles and the interceptions. We gave them a lot of turnovers. But, they’re a good football team.”Dunlap also intercepted Medsker to set up another Rifle score and junior Tyler Gose returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown.Eagle Valley’s leading tacklers were Sean Matheson and Clayton Forsyth who both finished with 11 stops. “They set a pretty good pace,” Ramunno said. “Their offensive line came to the line and were ready to go. They’re a running team and we knew that with quick-hitting dives and leads and traps. And then if they’re working, they just come right up and hit them again and again and again.”Nate Peterson is a sports writer with the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com