Tigers lose to Rifle on a cold and snowy Senior Night, 6-55
Summit vs. Rifle
1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Final
Summit 0 0 6 0 6
Rifle 20 21 8 7 55
FRISCO — It was the sort of game most Tigers fans didn’t mind catching from the warm and cozy confines of a car in the Summit High School parking lot.
On senior night, with a fresh coat of snow on the field and more falling well into halftime, the Tigers (1-9) lost the final game of the season to a fierce, fast and dominating Rifle Bears (9-1) squad, 6-55.
The loss marked the end of a frustrating football season. Things started on a high note with the home opener in September, when Summit’s defense and offense found their groove to earn a commanding 35-7 victory against Skyview at home. From there, it quickly spiraled into a string of blowouts, close calls and missed opportunities for first-year head coach Landon Greeve and Co.
It makes a sad sort of sense that the final football game was the entire season in a nutshell. Just look at the first half: The Tigers and Bears both had six drives in the first 24 minutes alone, but only the visiting team managed to score on each and every one. By the time both teams returned to the snow for the second half, the score was 41-0 in favor of the Bears.
And Rifle didn’t stop there. The pace of play slowed in the second, but the Bears continued to score every time they had the ball while wasting five to six minutes on each drive.
It was painful. It was disappointing. It was also somewhat expected. Rifle entered the game at 8-1 on the season and 5-1 in the 4A Western Slope, which had them facing a potential three-way tie for the league title with Palisade and Delta. (Oddly enough, those two met in Delta on Friday as well. Delta won 27-21 in a rough-and-tumble game to remain undefeated in the Slope.)
Summit hasn’t been in the post-season conversation since the home opener, but it didn’t matter. The Rifle game was senior night and the Tigers weren’t going down without a fight. It’s their home turf, snow and all, and they were determined to give the huddled Summit faithful a show, or at least give the car campers a reason to scream at the radio.
Late in the third quarter, the Tigers came through at their own 30-yard line. On the first play of the second drive, senior wide receiver-turned-quarterback Riley Beck lined up with fellow senior Tony Finley, the go-to running back for the evening. Beck took the snap and flicked it to Finley as he ran a route through the backfield to the opposing side. It’s the sort of play that Rifle had ID’ed and shut down nearly every time the Tigers tried.
But, this time, Greeve had a trick up his sleeve. After the flick, Finley continued to the home sideline for a pass from Beck. The Bears D-line was fooled, Beck completed the toss, and then Finley turned on the afterburners for a 70-yard touchdown run. The stands erupted in a flurry of blankets and hot cocoa. It was the Tigers final TD for 2015 — one of less than 10 on the season — and it came at the hands of two seniors. Later, on the final drive in the fourth, big Jack Anderson even tried his hand at two carries as running back. It was short-lived, but someone in the stands liked the strategy, yelling, “Let Will Flanagan run it!”
The Bears punched in a final TD and picked off Beck on the Tigers’ final drive to end the game on a knee. It was a rough end to a rough season, yet the Summit players hardly looked defeated. Tired, sure, but not defeated.
After the game, coach Joe Bauserman and Anderson talked alone on the sidelines. Bauserman joined the Tigers staff when Anderson and his fellow freshmen were freshmen, and the coach wanted his first class of players to end with pride.
“We’ll be back next year,” Bauserman said as he left the field, “And give ‘em hell.”
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