Moeller, Kittle help Rifle run away in Grand Valley
PARACHUTE — Big plays by a pair of Rifle High School running backs paved the way to a 48-7 season-opening win Friday night over Grand Valley.
Ryan Moeller and Brandon Kittle combined for 403 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
“We knew exactly what their tendencies were,” said Kittle, a junior who finished with 175 rushing yards on only eight carries. “We’d been watching them all week. We were ready.”
Moeller, a senior who finished with 228 yards on 21 carries through three quarters, broke off runs of 32, 23 and 86 yards. His biggest run of the night not only went for a score, but was the second of five unanswered touchdowns for the Bears.
“If you look at us as a team, we don’t have anybody who runs the ball who’s, like, 215 pounds or a bruiser or something,” Moeller said. “I think a lot of it is good speed and the ability to see the field.”
Rifle finished with 458 yards of total offense, with Adam Rice’s six-yard completion to Aaron Wagler accounting for the Bears’ passing attack. Tanner Zimmerman had 101 rushing yards on 15 carries and Tyler Scott finished 7 of 14 passing for 127 yards and a score for Grand Valley, but the Cardinals could never find a rhythm on offense.
“After a loss like this is when we find out what kind of character we have,” said Grand Valley coach Mike Johnson, whose team is coming off a 3-7 campaign. “Will we stay together or will we point fingers? Last year we pointed fingers. What are we going to do this year?”
The Bears struck first when Kittle toed the sideline on his way to a 45-yard touchdown scamper with less than three minutes gone in the first quarter. The Cardinals quickly answered, as Scott hit Trevor Smith in stride for an 80-yard score to give Grand Valley a 7-6 lead after Eddie Pena’s point-after kick.
That’s when Moeller took over. He carried the ball the final six plays of a 10-play, 45-yard scoring drive, capping it with an 11-yard jaunt to give the Bears a 13-7 lead. On the Bears’ next possession, Moeller broke off his 86-yard scamper with 44 seconds left before halftime to stake Rifle to a two-touchdown lead.
The Bears kept building their lead thanks to Kittle, whose 60-yard scamper on their third play of the second half put the game out of reach.