Laramie used big returns on special teams and defense to beat the Cheyenne South Bison 35-7 last Friday night at Deti Stadium.

The Plainsmen finished with a 4-0 mark at home in the regular season for the first time since 2000. Laramie also won on Senior Night and its Homecoming game.

Laramie head coach Clint Reed said it was a fantastic accomplishment.

"That was one of the goals. Next one was to try to get to at least five (wins) and host a home game, so we need to take care of that in the next two weeks and game plan and try to set these guys up for that second goal."

After 16 seniors were honored prior to kickoff, a senior sparked the Plainsmen early. Matt Smith took the opening kickoff back 88-yards for a touchdown. Sixteen seconds into the game, it was 7-0 LHS.

Reed said of the return, "I think that we were able to engage, get some better blocks a little bit up the field, not let guys get back into our backs there, and Matt just saw a seam. Then it was just his God-given talent with a lot of speed. That's what that is."

Laramie had a 14-7 lead with under 20 seconds left in the first half. The Bison intercepted a Jason Upton pass and moved into Plainsmen territory on their first play. On the final play of the half, South QB Trey Trimble rolled left to pass, was under pressure, and floated a pass that was intercepted by Laramie linebacker Caleb Eaton. He returned it 65-yards down the sideline for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead at halftime.

Reed admitted they had all this crazy stuff going on at that time.

"Then boom, got the ball back, instead of them driving, we get a nice pick-6 there, and Caleb just does something special for us."

The second half was controlled by the Plainsmen. They forced two turnovers, a punt, and a two turnover on downs.

Jason Upton found Brady Epler for touchdown passes of three yards and 29-yards in the fourth quarter. That created the final margin of 35-7.

With the return touchdowns and short fields, Laramie finished with only 227 yards of total offense. They ran for 195 yards and threw for 32. Baxter Tuggle ran for 109 yards on only 12 carries but left the game in the third quarter with an injury. The extent of which is unknown. Epler had a big game with the two TD catches, plus two interceptions in the second half.

South finished with 243 yards of total offense. The Bison ran for 226 yards. They also had four turnovers in the game.

After the kick-off return by LHS, each team turned the ball over. Cheyenne South capitalized on Laramie’s fumble and drove 14-plays and took over eight minutes off the clock before a Trimble 1-yard TD run tied the game, 7-7.

The Plainsmen answered quickly with a four-play, 62-yard drive. It was highlighted by a Tuggle 40-yard run. Upton capped it with a five-yard touchdown run and a 14-7 lead.

Reed added, "It was Senior Night, Homecoming, said go 4-0 at home. I mean it was a great evening, a little bittersweet as a coach for some things, but honestly, I couldn't be happier for the boys."

Laramie heads on the road for their final two games of the regular season. Next is a ranked showdown at No. 4 Sheridan against the Broncs Friday, Oct. 12. Kick-off is at 6 p.m. from Homer Scott Field in Sheridan.

More From KOWB 1290