The Laramie Plainsmen lost their first-round Class 4A playoff game at top-seed and top-ranked Cheyenne East on Friday night, 49-7.

The Thunderbirds got six touchdown passes and a TD run from quarterback Graedyn Buell. They also took advantage of five turnovers by the Plainsmen that led to 27 points.

Cheyenne East (9-1) won their ninth consecutive game and will host a semifinal playoff game against Sheridan next Friday night.

Laramie head coach Clint Reed said they struggled early.

“(It was) little key things, again. It’s the stuff that we’ve talked about. One missed assignment and things would break down, or we would have a penalty or a dropped ball. I commend all the teams we play, and I respect all the teams we play, but when we can’t beat ourselves like we did tonight.”

The Thunderbirds scored on their opening series when Buell found Gavin Goff for a 12-yard TD pass.

LHS responded with a 12-play drive into East territory, but an interception thwarted a scoring opportunity.

Reed added, “The game plan was to keep Buell off the field, and early on we started off well, but we just couldn’t punch it in and keep that momentum.”

The Thunderbirds turned the first interception into six points, as Buell connected with Jackson Hesford on a 14-yard TD pass late in the first quarter. A missed extra point made it 13-0.

Reed also said, “That’s a little bit of that growth, that maturity piece. When you get down a little bit and things aren’t going well, you’re just trying to make plays. Unfortunately, if you make a poor decision, even though you’re trying to make a play, you get a little impatient, and with five turnovers, that’s no way to win a game.”

Buell threw a pair of TD passes in the second quarter for Cheyenne East. One was a 14-yarder to Jake Rayl, while the other was an 18-yard screen pass to running back Cade Pugh. Buell added a two-yard touchdown run that made it 35-0 at halftime.

Laramie (2-8) had a turnover on four of its first five possessions in the game.

East added two more Buell TD passes in the third quarter. A 32-yard effort to Garet Schlabs and an 8-yard pass to Goff.

The Plainsmen scored with 3:28 left on a Graham Jacques 4-yard run.

The Thunderbirds out-gained Laramie 456-to-226 in total offense. Buell accounted for 390 yards of total offense. He threw for 270 yards and ran for 120 yards.

Colter Nunn led LHS with 86 yards rushing. Jake Vigen was 13-28 for 89 yards passing but had four interceptions.

Reed capped the season by saying, “I’d sum it up with perseverance. I still measure the character of the senior class and this team and the perseverance they taught me to continue to work and to continue to get better.”

Reed had been absent from the team due to a personal matter out-of-state over the last two weeks but made it back for the playoff game.

“When I got back and to be around the kids, it made me realize what they mean to me, what the program means to me, what the community in Laramie does. As long as they’ll have me, I want to be involved as much as possible, and if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be, but I’m going to tell you, it re-energized me just to be around the boys, and 2020 reminded me, how much uncertainty there is out there, but what perseverance means, and what it means to keep growing young men, so when this time is over, their best life is in front of them.”

The Plainsmen not only had to deal with COVID this year, but also air quality issues from the Mullen fire that hampered practice and shifted a home game to an away game, and then Coach Reed’s personal matter, and how the rest of the coaching staff adjusted and stepped up over the last two weeks.

Laramie will return three starters on offense and three on defense for the 2021 high school football season.

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