Tough loss

PFC:  Rifles open season with tough loss on the road

The Winnipeg Rifles opened the 2013 season with a tough loss, falling 32-20 at the hands of the Saskatoon Hilltops. Opening the season on the road against the Hilltops who have won 3 consecutive National Titles and seem to have an endless supply of fifth year players is never an enviable task. Despite the loss, there were plenty of bright spots for the Rifles that leave plenty of reasons for optimism.

The Rifles seemed to be able to move the ball at will, but numerous drives stalled deep into Hilltop territory with field goals or no points. Working behind a young offensive line, Marsch and company had a strong game, but struggled to finish drives, ultimately the difference in the game. Marsh finished the day 21 of 35 for 219 yards passing and running in a TD to match the TD toss he had to Jason Kelly. Devon Cox looked dominant at times rushing for 166 yards on 28 carries. The Rifles ended up winning the time of possession battle and gaining 30 first downs. Finishing with 435 yards of net offense, the Rifles downfall was their 6 turnovers.

The Defense played well in holding the Hilltops to just 22 first downs and despite being put in some tough field position, four times forcing the Hilltops to settle for field goals once they entered the Rifles side of the field. Cam Watkins led a strong effort by the secondary with an interception deep in Saskatoon territory, but the Rifles failed to convert when a field goal attempt went just wide. The tough conditioning drills during training camp paid dividends as the Rifles pushed for an exciting finish that ended following back to back questionable ball placements by the officials.

The Rifles return to practices at the Nomads Complex in preparation for next week’s Home Opener and their first ever game in Investors Group Field. The Game against the Edmonton Huskies goes at noon on Sunday August 25. The Huskies will bring a 1-0 record with them following their win over the cross-town rival Wildcats in week 1. The August 25 game features the kick-off of the Rifle’s ”fight back against cancer” campaign.

Source:  Joe Czech, Winnipeg Rifles Football

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