Three key plays in the second half proved costly for No. 5 Laramie, as the Plainsmen lost at No. 2 Cheyenne East last Friday night, 31-14.

A safety, a fourth down stop, and a 50-yard touchdown down pass broke open a one-score game.

Laramie (3-3) trailed by seven at halftime and got two defensive stops to begin the second half. That’s when the first mistake came.

After LHS forced a second punt by East in the third quarter. It trapped the Plainsmen inside their 10-yard line. On the second play, a low snap got away from quarterback Jason Upton. He picked up the ball in the end zone, but the Thunderbirds’ rush was on top of him. After a momentary scramble, Upton threw the ball away to his right but was called for an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone, which is an automatic safety. That gave Cheyenne East a 23-14 lead.

The Thunderbirds had to punt again after the free kick. Laramie drove to midfield and faced a fourth down and one play. Upton kept the ball on an option play to the right but came up a yard short.

On the next play, East’s Graedyn Buell connected with Cole Micheli on a 50-yard TD. After a two-point pass, it made the score 31-14.

LHS tried to respond and got the ball into Thunderbird territory, but an interception ended the threat.

Laramie had 301 yards of total offense. They ran for 229 yards. Baxter Tuggle had 156 yards and a touchdown. Upton added 78 yards and a score.

Cheyenne East finished with 378 yards in a balanced attack. The Thunderbirds had 189 yards rushing and 189 yards passing. Christian Anderton ran for 138 yards and touchdown, while Buell threw for the 189 and three scores.

East scored on their first possession. On fourth down at the Laramie 36-yard line, Buell found Dakota Merritt on a crossing route. He out-raced the Plainsmen defense down the sideline.

LHS answered two plays later when Tuggle raced 77-yards for a touchdown.

East took advantage of a short field and Anderton capped the drive with a two-yard score for a 13-7 lead early in the second quarter. A quick six-play drive resulted in a 25-yard Buell to Chance Aumiller touchdown pass and a 21-7 lead.

Laramie capitalized on a mishandled punt snap by the Thunderbirds. Merritt tried to run for the first down but was knocked out two-yards short at the Laramie 14-yard line. Three plays later, Upton ran it in from 12 yards out and trimmed it to 21-14.

The Plainsmen will try to bounce back, as they host Cheyenne South in their home finale. It’s Senior Night and Homecoming in one night. Kick-off is at 6 p.m.