Saturday, October 20, 2001
Rifle For the Rifle players and coaches watching Saturday's game between Steamboat Springs and Montezuma-Cortez on the Rifle High School field, one question remained unanswered which Sailors' team can the Bears expect when they meet Steamboat for the league title on Friday?
They're undoubtedly hoping it will be the Sailors team that started flat in the first half of the game, unable to put any points on the board and unable to slow Panthers tailback Kevin Wayman.
The Sailors trailed 6-0 at halftime on Saturday.
But the Bears also witnessed a Steamboat team that came in the second half on Saturday and racked up 20 unanswered points en route to a 20-6 victory.
"Right now, (Rifle) is probably licking their chops, because we looked pathetic. We were just lucky to get out of town with a win," Sailors coach Mark Drake said.
Steamboat's offensive line created the holes Pat McMahon would need in the second half, which helped pull the Sailors ahead.
The 1-7 Panthers took an unexpected lead in the opening quarter and kept the 8-0 Sailors scoreless until the beginning of the third.
Steamboat came into the second half looking for redemption, and it would take just two plays before the Sailors' Gaspar Perricone would recover a fumble at the 24-yard line on a turnover by the Panthers quarterback.
When the Sailors took over possession after Perricone's recovery, it was McMahon who broke loose for a big gain to put the team in scoring position at the 6-yard line.
Sailors running back Joey Marias would cap the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to even the score. Cory Beck tacked on the extra point to give the Sailors their first lead at 7-6.
After holding the Panthers scoreless on the ensuing series, Steamboat got the ball back at its own 11-yard line, setting up what was about to be the biggest play of the game.
On the Sailors' first play of the drive, McMahon took a handoff, shifted through the Panthers' line and outran the Panthers' secondary for an 89-yard touchdown.
"(The line) made the surges, opened up some big holes, McMahon said. "I read the blocks and ran as fast as I could."
In the first half, the offensive line had trouble adjusting as it went up against one of the biggest teams the Sailors faced all season.
"Before the game, I said what would determine if we win or lose would be (how we do) in the trenches," Drake said. In the first half, we lost the battle in the trenches. In the second half, we came out and did OK."
Although Marias was held to just 75 yards rushing for the game, that number was good enough to send him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
The Panthers' biggest offensive threat was Wayman, who finished with 122 of the team's 164 yards. He started the game at tailback but would finish at quarterback, managing just one completion for 32 yards.
Steamboat's secondary forced three interceptions in the game, two of which came from Beck.
Ray Banning had the team's other interception. The Sailors' third and final touchdown came from quarterback Tanner Barr, who leapt over the Panthers' defensive line on keeper for a 1-yard score late in the third quarter.