Late field goal lifts Rifle

RIFLE — Battle Mountain led 21-19. Rifle had the ball on the 25-yard line with the clock ticking down the final 30 seconds, with no timeouts left.

Marcos Gutierrez came on the field and kicked a 42-yard field goal with 6 seconds left for a thrilling 22-21 Rifle victory in the Western Slope Conference opener.

“My head was just in the game,” Gutierrez said. “I just tried to place the ball between the uprights; when I try to kill it, I miss.”

Both teams pounded the ball in the first half. Rifle scored first on a run by Brandon Kittle. Kittle rolled over the top of a Huskies defender, never touched the ground, and ran for a 34-yard touchdown.

Battle Mountain (3-1, 0-1 WSL) answered early in the second quarter with a touchdown run from Reeve Sanders. The Huskies took the lead and held it into the fourth quarter.

The Huskies missed several opportunities to score in the first half. Running back Zach Guida fumbled on the 1-yard line and quarterback Jake Engle threw a pass in the end zone that hit his receiver in the back of the head.

In the fourth quarter, Rifle (4-0, 1-0) got a first down on fourth-and-long with a 27-yard pass from Adam Rice to AJ Cordova. A 4-yard touchdown run by Kittle to take Rifle a 12-7 lead. Rifle coach Damon Wells called for a two-point-conversion, but it failed.

“We had a play ready and felt good about it,” Wells said.

Battle Mountain responded with a 7-yard touchdown run from Guida, who converted on a two-point conversion to lead 15-12.

Rifle then drove the field, running a flea-flicker with Ryan Moeller and Kittle that went for 30 yards to set up a touchdown run by Kittle and the point-after kick by Gutierrez and give Rifle back the lead at 19-15.

The Huskies came right back, scoring in four plays for a 21-19 lead when AJ Cordova blocked the extra-point kick.

Rifle got the ball with 1:30 to play. On fourth-and-10, the Bears converted a 28-yard pass with 49 seconds to play. The Bears ran the ball on third down but already used all their timeouts, so the clock was running with 15 seconds left. Wells sent Gutierrez, who also plays soccer, on to kick the winner.

“He’s able to balance soccer and football,” Wells said. “It was great to see his hard work rewarded tonight.”


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