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Lovell , Wyoming
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November 8, 2012     Lovell Chronicle
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CHR I S November 8, 2012 I The Lovell Chronicle I 9 Bulldogs battle from behind to edge Big Horn BY DAVID PECK It's hard to adjust to playing a tough opponent when you've been winning games consistently by sev- en or eight touchdowns, so perhaps it's understandable that the Lovell Bulldogs took some time to get up to speed during Friday's semifinal football playoff game at Big Horn. Trailing 21-7 in the sec- ond quarter and 28-15 early in the third, the Bulldogs dug deep, found something with- in themselves and rallied for a thrilling 29-28 win over the Big Horn Rams. "I think they did learn a little about themselves," coach Doug Hazen said. "As coaches we were really proud of the effort they gave. Ev- eryone felt a little bad for Big Horn, because both teams played their guts out. When you win or lose by a point you know you're pretty even- ly matched. We were lucky enough to be on the winning side." The win carries the Bull- dogs to the state champion- ship game Saturday at War Memorial Stadium in Lara- mie for the second straight year, and once again they will take on the Lyman Ea- gles. Kickoffis at 10 a.m. Hazen said he was pleased with how the Bull- dogs overcame the deficits, refused to quit, made ad- justments and battled back Friday. 'Tou can translate this game into how life can be," he said. "We were down big, kept fighting and plugging away at it, stayed the course and good things happened." Fired up at home and playing with a stiff wind at their back, which affected Lovell kicking and field po- sition, Big Horn was almost unstoppable in the first quar- ter and scored a touchdown the first three times the Rams had the ball, showing balance with a crisp passing attack and a strong running game. DAVID PECK Senior Jacob Beck (51) and teammates Morgan May (58), Calin McArthur (20) and Aaron Monterde (40) celebrate following Lovell's dramatic 29-28 win over Big Horn Friday afternoon. "It's very difficult to run a scout offense to mimic what they do," Hazen said. "We had to change our coverage a little. There was a hole in our coverage, and we weren't getting a lot of pressure on them. Even when we blitzed we weren't getting there, and that opened up holes underneath. "We were wary about getting beat deep, and we did a good job preventing that, but that opened up some lanes underneath." EARLY BURST After forcing Lovell three and out to start the game, Big Horn came out throwing but also had some big gains with a trap running play to quick back Will O'Dell. A punt into the wind and a nice return gave Big Horn a short field on the first series, and the Rams drove 32 yards in seven plays as quarterback Connor McCafferty connect- ed with Lucas Wollenman for a 20-yard gain on fourth and six, which set up a three-yard run by Colter Carzoli. After being stymied on their first drive, the Bull- dogs drove 80 yards to score on their next possession. Key plays included a 19-yard pass from Dylan Hultgren to Na- than Grant out of the back- field, a 23-yard run off tackle left by Dino Collins, a six- yard pass to Austin Ellis and a 14-yard touchdown run by Collins to the right side that saw him bounce outside and dash down the sideline to paydirt. Cody Savage's point- after kick knotted the score 7-7 with 3:47 left in the first quarter. "They were keying on Dino, but that's nothing new for us," Hazen said. "Every team keys on Dino, but they were more evenly matched. It was much harder to break a big run." Big Horn answered the Lovell touchdown with a 62- yard drive as O'Dell burst for 33 yards on the trap play, McCafferty kept for six and then hit Wollenman wide open over the mid- dle for 13. McCafferty then went nearly untouched up the middle from nine yards out for the touchown as Big Horn led 14-7 late in the first period. Lovell went three and out on the ensuing series and Savage's punt was knocked down by the wind and car- ried only 23 yards. It took 10 plays, but Big Horn eventu- ally punched it in after con- verting another fourth-down pass over the middle, this time for 15 yards, which set up an eight-yard touchdown pass from McCafferty to Wol- lenman four minutes into the second quarter, putting Big Horn up 21-7. Lovell's passing game wasn't eharp early, though it proved to be a huge factor lat- er, and two incompletes led to the Bulldogs again going three and out, but this time Savage boomed the punt 63 yards to the end zone with the wind now at his back. "I can't say that I wasn't nervous," Hazen said. "We just couldn't stop them at that point. But we weren't far off. It was some little things like a missed tackle or a being a little soft in cover- age. We knew it was correct- able, that we were a couple adjustments away from be- ing just fine." Big Horn started to march again as O'Dell weaved his way for 22 yards and McCafferty ran a boot- leg for 14. But after Big Horn reached Lovell terri- tory the Bulldogs stiffened as they stopped the run and put pressure on McCafferty. On fourth and eight at the Lovell 45, Big Horn tried a fake punt and the Bulldogs smelled it out, stopping the run after only three yards. The stop seemed to ener- gize the Bulldogs, who drove 58 yards to score. Collins rambled for eight, Hultgren hit Savage for 20, Collins got five more and Hultgren found Calin McArthur over the middle deep and the ju- nior turned and busted into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown play. FIRE! A motion penalty on Sav- age's successful PAT actual- ly turned to the Bulldogs' ad- vantage when on the ensuing re-kick the snap from cen- ter was wide and slipped off holder Hultren's hands. The senior yelled "fire" to initiate an emergency two-point con- version play, then looked for an open receiver. Grant, lin- ing up on the left wing as a blocker, broke to the outside, caught Hultgren's short pass and dashed into the end zone for the two-point conversion- a play that would later come to haunt the home team. Lovell was back in the game trailing 21-15 with 2:08 to play in the first half. "As coaches we were very pleased with our kids in that they looked like they had practiced it over and over again so they just react- ed," Hazen noted. "It wasn't something brand new for them." Big Horn went to a two- minute drill and drove to the Lovell 30, but McAr- thur picked off McCafferty at the 18 to end the drive - only the second interception of the season thrown by the Big Horn quarterback. Lovell drove to the 44 but ran out of time as the half ended. COMEBACK The second half was al- most all Lovell except for one play. "We did some blitzing - picked our spots - and we also tried to move our defen- sive linemen around to stop the trap play," Hazen said. "We changed our coverage, which was a bit of a gamble. We're not typically a man-to- man team, but we went to a loose man-to-man to take away the routes they were running against us." Big Horn took the open- ing kickoff and on the second play running back Scott Pas- sini slipped out around left end, broke a tackle and raced See 'BULLDOGS,' page 10 It's Lovell and Lyman again for state title game rematch BY DAVID PECK Last year the Lovell Bulldogs defeated the Ly- man Eagles twice en route to an 11-0 season and Lovell High School's sec- ond state football title, top- ping the Eagles 21-13 in the state championship game in Laramie. Saturday, the Bulldogs and Eagles will meet for the fourth time in two years as they battle on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, and like last year's second game, this one is for the title. Kickoff is scheduled for 10 a.m. Lyman edged Lovel120-6 in Lyman back on week three of the season (Sept. 14) in a game that was a one-touch- down game until the Bull- dogs allowed the Eagles to score late in hopes of scoring themselves, converting an on-side kick and then scor- ing again. It was their only hope as Lyman was running out the clock. The Bulldogs on Satur- day will be fighting to not be the two-game sweep victim the Eagles were a year ago. "We're pretty familiar with them, and they're fa- miliar with us," coach Doug Hazen said. "We'll do our normal thing. At this point we're prepared to do any- thing. Lyman is a good foot- ball team, and this is for all the marbles." Like last year, both teams come into the games with high-powered offenses. After nine games (first round of playoffs), Lyman had the top offense in Class 2A with 378.8 yards per game, and Lovell was a close second and virtually tied at 378.3 yards per contest. Lovell, however, was averaging 9 yards per play, Lyman 7.3. Lyman has been the top defensive team this season, allowing just 92.8 yards per game through nine games, and Lovell was third at 216.7 yards per contest - much of that in the second half against second- and third- string players. Lyman's top weapon is receiver Cisco Taylor (#1), who is fourth in the state in receiving at 56.7 yards per game and has 34 receptions for 510 yards and 11 touch- downs. Bobby Wingeleth (#33) has 17 catches for 310 yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback Bransen Brad- shaw (#44) has completed 79 of 130 passes (61 percent) for 1166 yards and 22 touch- downs, with 10 interceptions. For Lovell, Dylan Hult- gren has completed 54 of 96 passes (56 percent) for 957 yards with 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions (through nine games). Cody Savage is Hultgren's top tar- get with 19 receptions for 451 yards and nine touch- downs through the Glenrock game. Ryan Clark had 15 re- ceptions for 148 yards and four TDs. Dino Collins leads the state in rushing for the Bull- dogs at 153.7 yards per game (playing less than half a game, on average), carrying 116 times for 1,383 yards and 20 touchdowns. Na- than Grant had 483 yards rushing after nine games on 43 attempts, with four touchdowns. Quarterback Brad- shaw has 109 attempts for 698 yards and 15 touch- downs to lead Lyman. Kyle Stokes (#2) is the top run- ning back with 667 yards on 82 carries, scoring 10 touchdowns. "Their strength is that they have a lot of depth," Hazen said. "Their defense swarms the football, and they haven't allowed a lot of points, I think three touch- downs total. "They bottled us up in Lyman and we didn't throw the ball really well. We had five turnovers and three were interceptions. "It will be aheck of a game."