Bowling through the Bears

Bulldogs run over Rifle, 28-14

It's a good thing for the Moffat County High School football team that senior Tyler Pike has a good memory.

Pike took his first snap of the year to start the second half of the Bulldog's 28-14 win against Rifle.

It wasn't just his first time in a game at quarterback this year, it was his first time ever this year.

"Yeah, if you want to count how many times I've taken a snap this year watch the game film," said the usual wide receiver. "I started as the JV quarterback last year so I remembered some of the stuff. The rest of the time the line or the backs helped me."

With backup quarterback sophomore Andrew Drake in jeans and a knee brace on the sideline, Pike was picked to fill in for injured starter junior Derek Duran. The starter suffered a head injury during a tackle on defense late in the second half.

The new quarterback had one basic, simple task the second half. Hand the ball off to the running backs because the Bear defense couldn't stop them.

Nothing to it, right?

"I almost threw up before half time," Pike said. "A couple other guys had been taking snaps in practice, so I didn't think there was any way I'd get the call."

Moffat football coach Lance Scranton said the coaching staff picked Pike because he'd been there before.

"Rifle hadn't shown they had an answer for our running game," he said. "So we felt Pike could do the job because he had handed off in a varsity situation before."

The Bulldogs' domination on the ground doesn't show up completely in the stats. They've rushed for more yards as a team in all but two of their games this season. What they did was eat up the clock during their drives and keep the Bear offense off the field.

Each scoring drive averaged seven minutes and 70 yards.

From Pike's vantage point, the big boys in front of him made the difference.

"I have to give the credit to the line," he said. "They made my night easy." Other guys reaping the benefit of the blocking were the backs. Scott Garoutte did a majority of his damage in the Bulldogs' first scoring drive. The fullback caught three passes for 39 yards and ran four times for 17 yards. His final carry of the drive was a 3-yard push into the end zone. The first two series set an early tone for the game. The Bulldog defense forced the Bears to punt and then the offense drove almost the whole length of the field for a score.

"Last week we played too tense," senior lineman Kyle Fredrickson said. "Today we went out and had fun and came together."

Despite the early struggles, Rifle didn't roll over after Moffat's first drive. The Bears went 98 yards in seven minutes to score. The big play for the No. 5 team in Class 3A was the last one of the drive. Quarterback Kyle Sanderson found Colton Hedburg for a 33-yard touchdown reception on fourth down and 9 yards to go. The missed point after left the Bulldogs in the lead, 7-6.

Kellan Moore answered three plays later for the No. 4 Bulldogs. He switched fields during an inside hand off and broke a 57-yard touchdown run to put his team up 13-6.

"We established Scott early, and it opened it up for Kellan," Scranton said. "The lines really wanted to send a message tonight, and while I haven't seen the tape yet, it seems like they did."

According to some of the linemen, Moore has a job to do now. His 158 yards moved him past the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The lineman think he owes them a steak.

The Bulldogs went up by two touchdowns on their first drive in the second half. It was a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took four minutes. Garoutte finished it off with a 1-yard run.

Rifle came right back, and again on fourth down, connected for a 33-yard touchdown to make the score 20-14 with 11:40 left in the game. The Bears were more effective, four-for-five, on fourth down than on third down, three-for-12.

The Bears' ability to hit on passes even when the Bulldogs completely expected it bothered Scranton.

"We need to work on our zone coverage," he said. "Fortunately our O was on the field a lot tonight and it helped us hold a good Rifle team to 14 points."

The offensive numbers weren't too uneven. The Bears had 308 yards, and the Bulldogs had 329. Rifle had 20 first downs, and Moffat had 18. There were only seven penalties called the whole game. There also were no turnovers.

The difference was that the Bulldogs scored on four of their seven drives while the scored on two of eight drives.

On their final drive -- the preverbal nail in the coffin -- Moore got a bit of a rest while senior Daniel Tague carried four times for 34 yards. Garoutte finished off the drive with a one-yard run. That left the score at 28-14 with eight minutes to go.

The Bulldog secondary finally stopped the Bears on fourth down from the 17-yard line. Junior Korey Kostur knocked down a pass in the end zone to end the Bears' final hopes.

"We told the kids all week that the playoffs started tonight," Scranton said. "We believe we're a state championship contender but we hadn't played like it. Tonight we showed that sometimes."

The win improves the Bulldogs to 7-1 overall and 6-1 in the Western Slope League. The win should secure a second-place finish in the WSL. Rifle is now 3-3 and is in position to end up with the fourth-and-final playoff spot for the WSL.

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