Bears’ defense huge in win over Huskies

RIFLE – The last time Damon Wells can remember one of his team’s defenses forcing its opponent into negative yardage was …

“Never. It’s never happened,” the coach of the top-ranked Bears said following his team’s 55-0 Class 3A Western Slope Conference victory over Battle Mountain at Bears Stadium on Friday night.

Rifle (5-0 overall, 3-0 league) proved more than stout defensively against the winless Huskies (0-5, 0-3). Not only did the Bears force eight punts, but the Battle Mountain offense lost 13 yards over the course of the game. By halftime, the running-clock mercy rule had been in effect for more than five minutes.

“I can guarantee you with every fiber of my soul that we are not overconfident, and we never look past anyone,” Wells said. “They have great kids, but we prepared for a ton of hours for this game. Hats off to our kids for making it happen.”

Battle Mountain running back Wyatt Harwood led the Huskies with seven rushing yards on 10 carries. In five games, Rifle has allowed only two touchdowns and has outscored its opponents 235-12.

“We’re pretty happy with what we’ve accomplished up to this point,” Wells said. “But, by and large, we’re going to be defined by what we do from this point in the season forward.”

Rifle finished with just 249 yards of total offense, but the Bears began most of their drives deep in Battle Mountain territory. Ryan Moeller, the state’s leading rusher, finished with 80 yards and three rushing touchdowns on the ground, while Kellin Leigh, Isaac Rider, Brock Clark and Austin Knight shared the rest of the rushing load.

Moeller, however, did finish with 196 all-purpose yards, including a 43-yard interception return and a 47-yard punt return for a touchdown, giving Rifle a 7-0 lead with just 2 minutes, 10 seconds gone in the first quarter after Marco Gutierrez’s point-after kick.

Rifle pushed Battle Mountain five yards backwards on its next possession, and Moeller romped in from 11 yards out three plays later.

Adam Rice threw for a pair of touchdowns, his first an 11-yard strike to Aaron Wagler that gave the Bears a 21-0 cushion.

Leigh found the end zone twice for the Bears, and his nine-yard scoring jaunt with 5 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the first half started the running clock.


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