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November 10, 2011     Lovell Chronicle
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CHR S November 10, 2011 I The Lovell Chronicle 1 7 Bulldo hold off Dogi 23 BY DAVID PECK It was a festive, play- off atmosphere at Robert- son Stadium Friday night, and the Lovell Bulldogs and Newcastle Dogies engaged in a classic gridiron bat- tle that saw the Bulldogs prevail 23-20 and advance to the state championship game for the first time since 2003. The final score is a little misleading as the Bulldogs led 23-6 with four minutes left in the game before a late Dogie rally put a scare into Bulldog fans, players and coaches. Even coach Doug Hazen admitted he got a little ner- vous in the final minute of the game. "To me, it wasn't as close as the score shows - until the last on-side kick (following Newcastle's last touchdown)," Hazen said. "Then I felt the pressure. I would have preferred our guys to make a couple of tackles inbounds and not al- lowing them to score. "Our 'prevent' defense almost prevented us from winning, but if we make a couple of tackles inbounds, the clock runs out." Newcastle won the sta- tistical battle, outgaining the Bulldogs 359-206 in to- tal yards, but the Bulldogs were opportunistic on de- fense, thwarting six New- castle drives with turn- overs - five interceptions and one fumble. Sophomore linebacker Dillon Pickett snared three interceptions, and Dino Collins and Mark Grant had one pick each. The Bulldogs were also hampered by an early inju- ry to top running back Dino Collins who, ironically, was hurt after intercepting a pass on the third play of the game, twisting his ankle on DAVID PECK Lovell senior cornerback Hunter Hinckley snares Newcastle running back/ quarterback J.T. Harper on a sweep right as junior linebacker Ryan Clark (33) moves in for the hit during Lovell's 23-20 win over the Dogies Friday night at Robertson Stadium. The Bulldogs take on Lyman Friday at noon in Laramie for the state title. the play. Collins came back and played well, but wasn't 100 percent. Dimas Patina did a good job in relief, as well. "We had five intercep- tions and a number of pass break-ups," Hazen said. "And they were good. They were a good team. I give Newcastle a lot of credit. There were not only a good team, they fought all the way to the end. They didn't give up. "That's a credit to their coaching staff, as well as their players." The Lvell offense struggled to move the ball in the first quarter and most of the fourth quarter but scored three touchdowns and a field goal in between. Early, Hazen said, a lot of it had to do with adjusting to Collins' injury, and in the fourth, the team was at- tempting to eat up the clock. "With Dino, we had a certain game plan and then right from the get-go we couldn't do what we expect- ed to do," he said. "It took us a while to get adjusted. But we also didn't make plays in the first half. We dropped some passes or a pass would be off the fingertips. "We didn't get ourselves going like we had in the past." Collins' early intercep- tion gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Newcastle 10, but they couldn't move the ball, and Cody Savage's 30-yard field goal was blocked. That was it for offensive threats in the first quarter as each team punted after that. The Dogies put togeth- er their best drive of the first half- 67 yards -- and threatened early in the sec- ond quarter, but Eli Moody crushed Newcastle back J.T. Harper on second and six from the 20 and Col- lin McArthur and McKay- an May broke up passes on consecutive plays as New- castle gave the ball back to the Bulldogs on downs. The Bulldogs couldn't move, but Savage boomed a 68-yard punt that pinned the Dogies back at their own 17. They drove to the 37, but consecutive penal- ties set them back to the 27 and Mitch Weigel's second- and-20 pass was picked off by Pickett. Lovell drove to the 9, and on third and three, May was hit before the ball ar- rived in the end zone on a pass from Dylan Hultgren, but there was no call. Sav- age then knocked through a 26-yard field goal and Lovell led 3-0. The Bulldogs forced the Dogies three and out, then drove 44 yards to score fol- lowing a short Dogie punt. Patina got things going with a 12-yard burst up the middle, and Hultgren found Hunter Hinckley for a 19- yard pass down the right sideline, where he held on despite a hard hit. Patina scored on an eight-yard run, juking past defenders, and Savage's PAT put Lovell up 10-0 late in the first half. Trailing 10-0 at the half, and kicking off to the Bulldogs to start the second half, the Dogies pulled off a bold move, kicking what Ha- zen described as a mortar kick that lofted above the first Lovell wall of blockers as Newcastle players made a beeline for the live football and, after a scramble, recov- ered the ball. With the mo- mentum turned, Newcastle drove 36 yards to score on a one-yard run by Harper. The Bulldogs blocked the PAT, but Newcastle was in the game, trailing 10-6. The Bulldogs respond- ed, driving 75 yards to score thanks to hard running by Patina and Collins and a crisp, short passing game. Collins scored from 10 yards out on a sweep around left end. The PAT was wide left, but Lovell led 16-6. A Newcastle fumble, re- covered by AJ Montanez, set up a 65-yard scoring drive for the Bulldogs that culmi- nated two minutes into the fourth quarter with a touch- down that put Lovell up 23- 6. Hultgren found Savage slicing across the middle for a 33-yard gain, then later hit the tall end for a 17-yard touchdown pass. "One of the big reasons we've had success this year is that we've been able to re- spond," Hazen said. "Teams will make it close but we're able to drive and extend out lead. Those two drives sealed the win for us." The fourth period was wild. Mark Grant intercept- ed a Weigel pass to end the first Newcastle threat, but the Bulldogs couldn't move and punted to the end zone. Newcastle drove to the Lovell 23 thanks, in part, to an end-around pass from Harper to Sean Williams, See 'SEMI-FINAL' on page 8 Bulldogs focus on Lyman rematch for 2A title game Friday BY DAVID PECK And then there was one. After a long and so far successful season the 10-0 and top-ranked Lovell Bull- dogs have one more game to play: Friday's Class 2A state championship game against the Lyman Eagles. The game kicks off at noon Friday at War Memori- al Stadium in Laramie. Tick- et prices are $11 for adults and $8 for youths ages 3-18. The tickets also cover the Powell-Douglas game to fol- low at 3 p.m. Tickets for all five championship games are $16 for adults and $11 for youths. All tickets are general admission. The Bulldogs will find a formidable foe in the form of the Lyman Eagles. Ly- man is 9-1 on the season, with their only loss coming in week three at the hands of the Bulldogs in Lovell, 21- 7, though they out-gained Lovell in that game. Lyman is actually 8-1 on the field. After a for- feit win over Tongue River, which cancelled its season, the Eagles clobbered Kem- merer 41-0, lost to Lovell 21- 7, shut out Big Piney 47-0, beat Thermopolis 21-7, shut out Mountain View 27-0, crushed Pinedale 48-6 and finished the regular season with a 40-7 win over Grey- bull. In the playoffs the Ea- gles have whacked Big Horn 54-0 and edged Glenrock 22- 14 in Glenrock. As a comparison, Lovell beat Kemmerer 42-13, Big Piney 55-6, Thermop 32-13, Mountain View 21-19, Pine- dale 54-0 and Greybull 24-13 - as well as the Eagles. "They're a good foot- ball team," coach Doug Ha- zen said. "For sure they'll be ready to play. It's revenge DAVID PECK Lovell senior lineman AJ Montanez happily carries fellow senior Brigham Hopkin like a sack of potatoes following Loveil's dramatic 23-20 win over the Newcastle Dogies Friday night. Now 10-0, the Bulldogs play for the state title Friday in Laramie. for them since their only loss was to us." Hazen said the Bulldogs will have to defend Lyman's wide-open offense. In Lovell's homecoming win on Sept. 16, the Eagles rushed for 209 yards and passed for 211, but the Bulldogs also picked off four passes and recovered a fumble. "They want to pass it. They want to get the ball downfield," Hazen said. "But we have to stop the running game first. Then we have to stay deep and run with their receivers and not blow cover- ages. We need to get a pass rush and keep the quarter- back in the pocket. We're go- ing to have to contain him." In the Sept. 16 game, Lovell took a 21-0 lead in the first half on a 15-yard touch- down pass from Dylan Hult- gren to Cody Savage, a two- yard run by Dino Collins and a five-yard run by Mark Grant. The Bulldogs weren't as crisp in the second half, twice failing to convert in the red zone, but the Bulldog defense held the Eagles out of the end zone after a third-quarter Ly- man touchdown. Heading into the finale, Lovell averages 241 yards per game rushing, Lyman 217, ranked second and third in the Class 2A, respective- ly. Lyman is the top pass- ing team in the state, aver- aging 201 yards per game. The Bulldogs are fourth at 131 yards per game. Lyman and Lovell are one and two in team offense overall. On the other side of the ball, Lovell leads the state in rushing defense, allowing 101 yards per game, while Lyman is third, allowing 122 yards per game. Lyman al- lows only 64 yards per game passing, tops in the state, while Lovell allows 114 yards per game through the air - but the Bulldogs have picked off23 passes to lead the state, Lyman 15. In team defense, Lyman allows 186 yards per game, Lovell 215. Individually, Dino Col- lins of the Bulldogs is third in the state averaging 106 yards per game on the ground and has 15 touchdowns. Back- up Dimas Patina averages 53 yards per game. Branson Bradshaw (#44) leads Lyman with 81.2 yards per game, and Tui Magalogo (#6) aver- ages 67 yards per game. Lyman's Wade Eyre (#13) and Lovell's Dylan Hultgren are the top two passers in the state, averag- ing 178 and 132 yards per game, respectively. Eyre has completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,784 yards, with 23 touchdowns and 10 inter- ceptions. Hultgren has com- pleted 68 percent of his pass- es for 1,320 yards and has 13 touchdowns and just four in- terceptions. Cisco Taylor (#1) is Ey- re's go-to receiver, catching 49 passes this season, with 12 touchdowns, and Gabe Holstrom (#7) has 34 recep- tions and seven toughdowns. Cody Savage has caught 41 passes for the Bulldogs and has scored three touchdowns. The game will be the fi- nal contest for Lovell seniors Steven Pickett (injured), PJ Blankenship, Adam Beck, McKayan May, Collin McAr- thur, Dimas Patina, Brigham Hopkin, Cody Clark, Eli Moody, Garrett Angell, AJ Montanez, Mark Grant, Hunter Hinckley and Ritch McCollam. If the Bulldogs prevail Friday, it will be just the school's second state football title. The Bulldogs won it all in 1987, defeating Pinedale in the first round, 20-7, then topping Upton 14-6 in the championship game. The last time the Bull- dogs reached the champion- ship game was in 2003. PEP BUS PLANNED Lovell Principal Scott O'Tremba said the school, at the request of students, will be sending a pep or spirit bus to Laramie Friday. The bus will depart at 4 a.m. Friday, and tickets seats are $5 each. He said the available seats are for students first, then parents of participants, then parents of any student, in that order. The school was able to plan the spirit bus since there was a week to make ar- rangements, he noted. The football team will leave around 8 a.m. Thurs- day and practice at Casper Natrona en route, Athletic Director Joe Koritnik said. A bus carrying the band, dance team and cheerleaders will depart at noon Thursday, he said. All three buses will re- turn to Lovell Friday night, departing Laramie around 4 p.m., Koritnik said. TCT West will broad- cast the game on Friday, O'Tremba and Koritnik said. As of Tuesday, the Na- tional Weather Service fore- cast for Laramie was calling for sunny and breezy, with a high near 47. FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RESULTS Class 2A Football Playoffs Friday, Oct. 28 Lyman 54, Big Horn 0 Lovell 43, Burns 6 Saturday, Oct. 29 Glenrock 22, Kemmerer 11 Newcastle 28, Thermop 0 Round Two Friday, Nov. 4 Lovell 23, Newcastle 20 Lyman 22, Glenrock 14 Championship War Memorial Stadium Laramie Friday, Nov. 11 Lovell vs. Lyman, noon