A furious second half rally fell short for the Laramie Plainsmen Friday night in Rock Springs. They lost to the Tigers 51-29.

Laramie (0-2) trailed 34-0 at halftime. The Plainsmen responded with a stronger second half and at one point out-scored Rock Springs 29-3. A Nate Burman to Baxter Tuggle 39-yard screen pass followed by a 2-point pass to Garrett Worden got LHS within one score, 37-29.

The Tigers added two scores in the last 2:23 that provided the final margin. The first one was a 44-yard run by Mason Randall on fourth down and inches from the Laramie 45-yard line. Randall ran left and broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and went the distance for the score. The Plainsmen tried to sell out and stop the run, thus once Randall broke the tackle, he was off to the end-zone.

Laramie head coach Clint Reed said it was a tale of two halves.

“When we came out for the second half, we asked the kids to play for some pride. Come out and show what they’re made of, and what they’ve been doing, and they did. They did everything we asked ‘em to do coming out of halftime… We’ve got to find a way to loosen up and not be so tense coming out at the beginning of the game.”

Rock Springs (1-1) scored on five of its first six possessions. Freshmen QB Graedyn Buell tossed three TD passes, while Randall added a pair of short touchdown runs.

The Plainsmen finally scored on the third play of the second half. It was Burman to Tuggle on a 75-yard screen pass. Tuggle weaved his way through the defense. After a Rock Springs field goal made it 37-7, Laramie scored the next 22 points.

Burman connected twice with Chad Browning. The first was a 27-yard TD catch on fourth-and-goal in the corner of the end-zone. Then a four-yarder cut it to 37-21 with 4:08 left. After Browning recovered an onside kick, Burman found Tuggle again. He carried a defender with him into the end-zone the last five yards.

The second onside kick by the Plainsmen failed. The Tigers got the big fourth-down run, and then Randall added a late score after LHS turned the ball over on downs.

Reed said he was very proud of the team for not giving up.

“At least it shows their character, and what they are, and what they want to be. We want to use that. As coaches, we’re just blessed to have that from them. Guys that want to battle right to that last whistle.”

Laramie finished with 364 yards of offense. Burman went 19-37 for 311 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Tuggle had four catches for 139 yards and two scores. Browning added four receptions for 100 yards and two TD’s. The Plainsmen gained only 53 yards on the ground. One downfall was penalties. Laramie committed 20 penalties for 181 yards.

Reed added, “This game wasn’t turnovers early, but it was penalty after penalty. It either kept their drive going or killed our drive. So, mistakes early in the game again.”

Rock Springs piled up 504 yards offensively. Mason Randall ran for 240 yards on 36 carries and four touchdowns. He also fumbled twice.  Graedyn Buell threw for 257 yards and three scores.

Reed also said they’ve got work to do defensively.

“We’ve got to figure out some schemes and some personnel. I think it just really hurts us, and I don’t know how else to say it. When you’ve got two safeties like we had (Brady Epler and Jason Upton), and they weren’t here. It really hurt us in the passing game and the running game.”

Neither Epler nor Upton played due to injury.

The Plainsmen will try to bounce back in their next game. For a second straight week Laramie goes on the road to face the Campbell County Camels in Gillette on Friday, Sept. 8. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.

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