PUEBLO — Backed up to their own one yardline, things were starting to look dark for the Palmer Ridge Bears. They didn't look any better when quarterback Anthony Roberson felt pressure break through his offense line. As he made his first move to scramble, he dropped the ball.
He recovered quickly and scrambled for more than 30 yards.
In that one play was the Bears night in a nutshell as they topped Pueblo South 24-19 at the Neta and Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl. The campus of CSU-Pueblo seemed like an appropriate setting for the night as there's a chance these two teams could see each other in the same venue come December.
But neither coach wanted to talk about that.
"We're just going to to look at film from tonight," Palmer Ridge coach Tom Pulford said. "We'll take a look at Pine Creek after that."
Fair enough. But when Pulford dives into the film, he's going to see a few things he hasn't seen yet this season. Mainly his team not scoring on the opening drive and then quickly fall behind.
"I think this might've been the first time," running back Raef Ruel realized when asked how many times Palmer Ridge hadn't scored on its opening series.
In a way no one else had been able to all year, the Class 3A No. 4 Colts (3-1 overall) didn't let the Bears start fast and even though it was No. 1 Palmer Ridge who received the opening kick, South was able to find points first.
An inspired defense made Roberson uncomfortable on the first drive of the game forcing the Bears (4-0) to punt.
A heavy dose of George Longoria started off the South drive but it was when Logan Petit found Jackson Dickerson for a 45-yard touchdown pass that South felt like it could own the night. The Smith twins, Andy and Ian continued to get push and disrupt the Bears' offensive flow. They had to settle for a 38-yard field goal to cut the South lead in half.
And Petit wasn't done working. With ball around midfield again, he took a shot at the end zone where Dickerson again hauled in the pass and the Colts jumped up to a 13-3 lead.
"We had a fast start and we made some big plays," Pueblo South coach Ryan Goddard said. "The way we started was very inspiring and a great effort."
To make matters worse, it Roberson had to be helped off the field with what looked like a injury, but after Petit threw the first of his three interceptions of the game, Roberson trotted right back on the field. He helped the Bears get into the red zone where Ruel punched it in from two yards out.
That was the start of a big night for Ruel who ran for close to 120 yards after gaining just 16 in the first half.
But it was that touchdown got his momentum going.
"Our o-line overcame all of that and when we scored that boosted everyone's morale," Ruel said. "It changed the gear for our whole team."
Then the second half started and it became a game of Stop Ruel and a gassed Pueblo South defense couldn't keep up.
"Our offensive line did a great job," Pulford said. "And Raef is phenomenal, especially after contact."
In 15 carries in the second half he racked up over 100 rushing yards. He scored all three touchdowns for the Bears in the win, which is heck of a feat considering how hardened the South defense looked in the first half.
But the Bears overall were just like Roberson when he was scrambling and dropped the ball in the end zone. No matter how bad things looked at some point, they found a way to get the job done.