Defense Helps Laramie Hold Off Rock Springs
A pair of defensive stops inside their own 25-yard line helped the Laramie Plainsmen win their first game of the season, 21-14, last Friday night over Rock Springs.
Laramie (1-1) stopped the Tigers at their own 19-yard line after a 12-play drive. The Plainsmen couldn’t move the ball and were forced to punt. That’s when disaster nearly struck.
A high snap sailed over the head of senior punter Ethan Sell, who calmly picked up the ball inside his own five-yard line. He scrambled left, but instead of running or passing the ball, Sell tried to punt it away. The ball was partially blocked and Rock Springs took over at the Laramie 23-yard line.
With no timeouts and the clock winding down, the Tigers were forced to pass and four straight incompletions gave the ball back to LHS.
Laramie got one first down and moved into victory formation for a couple of kneel downs for the victory.
Plainsmen head coach Clint Reed said the defense rose to the occasion.
“It’s tough to play that team and that kind of offense, and to get pinned back like that in that situation, and not to lose their cool and to stay steady and to try to fight on that line of scrimmage while the guys on the back end were scrambling for every jump ball.”
Laramie got off to a good start, as they scored on two of their first four drives. After Rock Springs was stuffed on fourth down and two from their own 28-yard line, the Plainsmen cashed in. Baxter Tuggle capped the ensuing drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
In the second quarter, Janson Adair returned a punt 37 yards to the Tiger 32-yard line. Five plays later, Jason Upton hooked up with Brady Epler on a 10-yard TD pass for a 14-0 lead.
Rock Springs answered with a Favor Okere 43-yard touchdown run, but the two-point pass failed.
The Plainsmen came right back with a seven-play drive shortly before halftime. Upton ran it in from nine yards out for a 21-6 lead.
The Tigers scored on their second drive of the third quarter when Okere took it in from five yards out. The two-point run cut it to 21-14.
Laramie went on their own march of 11 plays, and even though they didn’t score, it took time off the clock and kept the Rock Springs offense off the field.
Reed said, “They may have had more yards than us. I’m not sure exactly where the yardage was. It could be close. They could have more, but we may have not racked off a bunch of chunk of yards, but you’re right, time-of-possession and turnovers are what we talked about at the end of last year, going into this year. We struggled with some of those things, especially down the stretch with K-W, and to have those things, it kind of got ugly in the second half, but as long as we could try to sustain or win those two categories, statistically, I think we had a chance to win.”
The Plainsmen finished with zero turnovers and were plus-seven in time-of-possession.
Rock Springs (0-2) did out-gain LHS in total offense with 248 yards. Okere finished with 130 yards rushing.
Laramie totaled 198 yards on offense, with most of that coming in the first half. Upton ran for 69 yards and passed for 52. Tuggle added 77 on the ground.
Reed was also appreciative of the community support with their “White Out” and hosting the players from the middle school and Laramie Youth Football programs.
“The community is amazing. The support from the administration, from the faculty, staff, and the kids (students)… The youth mean everything to us for the future. Those young boys are going to be part of us in a few years.”
Next up, the Plainsmen will have their second straight home game Friday night at Deti Stadium. Laramie will take on the Gillette Camels. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.