First victory vs. rival Rifle big for Coal Ridge

RIFLE — A quick score by the Rifle High School football team made a big first impression.

The Coal Ridge Titans’ offense made a lasting impression in the fourth quarter.

Coal Ridge’s offense woke up in the final quarter, scoring two unanswered touchdowns in the final four minutes to beat Rifle 13-6 at Bears Stadium.

“This is a very big win for our program and our school,” said Coal Ridge coach Scott Parker, whose team was playing Rifle for the first time since the school opened seven years ago.

“With us being kind of the new kid on the block, it’s a really big win for us. It’s not just a nonleague game.”

The offense came up really big in the fourth quarter for the Titans (2-0) after the Bears’ defense stalled them in the first three quarters. Of the 159 total yards Coal Ridge compiled, 89 of came on the Titans’ final two and decisive drives.

“When I would go in motion, they would bring two people over to my side,” said junior running back Cody Walls, who scored the go-ahead touchdown with 4:02 remaining and had an interception less than a minute later to set up the game-clinching score.

“We started going opposite field, and that’s when we could start driving the ball up their throat. We played smash-mouth football from there, and it worked.”

Ryan Moeller finished with 108 rushing yards on 13 carries for the Bears (1-1). All of Rifle’s 147 total yards all came on the ground, including 85 on the Bears’ second play from scrimmage, when Moeller scampered into the end zone for a 6-0 lead after the failed extra-point attempt.

“If you score six points, you shouldn’t win a football game,” Rifle coach Damon Wells said. “They had a nice game plan and played really well. Both defenses did.”

After an illegal shift penalty negated a 31-yard run by Keaton Deere, Moeller broke away for his 85-yard score less than 30 seconds into the game. Defense took center stage for the rest of the half, with Coal Ridge limiting the Bears to only 36 yards and a pair of first downs. The Titans managed only 60 yards on 34 plays.

The Titans finally broke through in the fourth, however, putting together a 13-play, 72-yard drive that ended in Walls’ 3-yard touchdown run. On Rifle’s next possession, Walls intercepted a pass by Rifle quarterback Keaton Deere and returned it 30 yards to the Rifle 17-yard line.

Seven plays later, a 3-yard scoring run by junior quarterback Robby Moore with 1:03 left sealed it, sending the fans who made the short trip from Silt and New Castle into a frenzy.

“It’s so big to win this,” Walls said. “It’s like the start of a new rivalry.”

In other games Friday, Grand Junction won its first game against a Class 5A team in Denver since moving up to the state’s biggest classification, beating Overland 39-7.

“We feel like the program has really turned a corner,” said Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens. “The first two years we played younger guys and now those younger guys are at a point where they know what it takes to play at at 5A level.”

The Tigers scored in the first quarter on a 5-yard run by Andy Willett, who was injured later in the half.

Grand Junction put up 16 points in the second quarter behind a field goal by Tyler Winder, a 5-yard run by Jerreon Dennis and a 48-yard pass from Sean Rubalcaba to Chandon Rose.

Rubalcaba scored on two more runs in the second half.

Coach Robbie Owens was pleased with the performance from Dennis, who stepped into the game after the injury to Willett. Dennis ran for nearly 100 yards.

Owens said Willett will miss the next game, but expects him to return later in the season.

Grand Valley got on the board early and limited Paonia to one touchdown in the final quarter to beat the Eagles 22-7.

Gunnison scored 12 first-quarter points to beat Manitou Springs 20-6.


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