Rifle High football playoffs end in 14-0 loss to Montezuma-Cortez

Rifle High football playoffs end in 14-0 loss to Montezuma-Cortez

A Rifle Bears crowd tackle Basalt senior Cooper Crawford in motion earlier this season at Basalt.
Ray Ok. Erku / Impartial Publish

The relentless defensive stress utilized by the host Montezuma-Cortez Panthers marked the destiny of the Rifle Excessive Faculty soccer staff early on and all through a 2A quarterfinal playoff recreation on Saturday, ending in a 14-0 loss for the Bears to shut the season.

The 14th-ranked Bears defeated the No. 11 Panthers within the season opener Sept. 2 at Rifle, 33-26.

So on paper it was a fairly even recreation for the Bears and Panthers, who each superior to the second spherical with upset wins final week to open the playoffs – Rifle over No. 3 Florence, 14-7, and Montezuma-Cortez on No. 6 Elizabeth, 21-7.

However the Panthers capitalized on Rifle’s early errors and had junior quarterback Logan Gross operating for his life behind the road of scrimmage for a lot of the sport, as Gross succumbed to quite a few sack performs.

Not even a minute into the sport, Gross fumbled on a sack to present Montezuma-Cortez the ball contained in the 20. Panthers second scholar Tay Wheat rapidly cashed in, scrambling 19 yards for his first of the 2 touchdowns to present the upper seed the primary lead, 7-0, after the additional kick.

Gross instantly went into the air to attempt to get previous the highest of the defensive rush, however the Panthers secondary was as much as the duty as effectively.

With lower than 2 minutes remaining within the first quarter, what gave the impression to be a 16-yard landing run for Rifle was known as off on a maintain name. Shortly after, once more inside Panthers territory, Gross was sacked on a fourth-and-15 play, leaving the Bears to aim a 37-yard subject objective try by senior Javier Diaz, which was blocked.

Then, within the second quarter, the Bears once more had a golden alternative to attain, however Gross was picked by Montezuma-Cortez sophomore cornerback Colby McMillan within the purple zone.

“They’d a very good scheme with nice athletes on the again,” Rifle head coach Ryan Whittington stated afterwards. “They had been effectively skilled and executed the plan.”

It is the primary journey to the playoffs since 2014 for Montezuma-Cortez, who strikes to 8-3 and can face defending state champion No. 2 Eaton, a 41-7 winner over undefeated seventh-place Basalt, on Saturday in semi-final subsequent week. .

Rifle – ending 6-5 on the season after going 3-2 in 2A League 6 competitors – is not any stranger to the playoffs, having received a state championship within the one-time pandemic spring season in 2021 and ending second in 2012 and 2014.

Montezuma-Cortez saved the stress on within the second half, getting his second landing on a 13-yard run from Wheat after a 34-yard acquire with 1:15 left within the third quarter. Penalties hampered the Bears’ possibilities of getting on the board, and lead operating again Nicholas Saldivar was restricted to only 42 yards within the afternoon.

The Bears had different alternatives, together with a fourth play early within the fourth quarter when Gross’ cross slipped previous junior Joel Valencia in the long run zone. Gross left the sport with simply over 5 minutes left on account of harm, and backup quarterback second Tryston Sheets could not discover extra solutions to the Panthers’ stable protection.

Rifle held on defensively on the ball, preserving the sport in verify and recording six sacks on senior Panthers quarterback Jake Blackmer.

“I am happy with our boys for the way exhausting they performed regardless of our errors,” stated Whittington. “I am particularly happy with our elders who tried to get us again on monitor.

It was the final recreation in a Bears jersey for 9 seniors, together with Saldivar, Diaz, Brandon Marques, Preston Byrd, Austin Bowlan, Xane Kusserow, Aaron Silva, Kyton Rew and Kade Road.

In different 2A playoff video games on Saturday, he was early seeded Delta 37-8 towards No. 8 Alamosa and No. 4 The Classical Academy 44-12 towards No. 12 College.

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