Cougars come up short against NatronaSep 8, 2017 By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer
The flashing lights and safety cones before and after the Casper Natrona Sophomore team bus broke down just west of Moneta could have been an omen for the young Mustangs on their trip to Pavillion, but Fremont School District 25 in Riverton sent a relief bus and the Thursday night game was still on.
Natrona County built a 14-0 lead in the first period before the Cougars regrouped and made it interesting before a last-minute touchdown sealed a 21-12 win for the 10th- graders from Natrona County.
Casper has an excellent pair of young players in quarterback Ryan Sorensen, who picked the Cougars secondary apart for 155 yards, completing nine of 15 attempts and fleet-footed running back Wilsk Jackson, who gained more yardage individually than the Mustangs did as a team with 185 yards on 23 carries.
Wind River's forte in the game was defense after the initial shock of 19 and 58-yard touchdown passes from Sorenson to Jackson and Isaac Palomo.
The Cougars moved the ball well on their opening possession behind balanced running from Jackson Clair, Kage Vogel and Ben Hoopengarner, along with a pass from Dillan Cachelin to Clair, but stalled inside the 20-yard line.
A 39-yard field goal attempt by Jordan Kline sailed wide right and Natrona took the ball on the 20.
The second period ground down to a defensive struggle, with Wind River forcing a pair of short punts from Casper. The Cougars couldn't move consistently as well, but came to life in the final minutes of the half when Kyle Lair found Dalton Finley alone in the secondary on a halfback pass that moved the ball to the 9-yard line for a first-and-goal with 0:42 remaining in the second period.
Hoopengarner powered to the 5-yard line, with Vogel moving it again to the three as the clock ticked away.The Cougars barely beat the clock on the snap, but Colter Culver put his head down and powered in behind a solid surge from the Wind River line and scored after time expired. Kline's kick was blocked, but the Cougars were on the board, trailing 14-6 at the half.
Wind River won the opening toss and elected to defer, but ending up kicking off to start both halves of football.
The Cougars picked up good field position when Kaden Dower knocked the ball loose from Jackson and Owen McAdams recovered the fumble at the 33. The Cougars stalled on the drive, but continued to dominate the second half defensively.
Colton Befus sacked Sorensen, forcing another short Natrona punt to open the final period and Laird tallied a pair of solo tackles in the flat.
On the night, Laird had perhaps the best game for Wind River on both defense and special teams, along with connecting on the earlier halfback pass.
The Cougars faced a fourth-and-two at the Natrona 48-yard line with just eight minutes remaining in the game and Vogel ran behind A.J. Salazar for seven yards to keep the drive moving.
Clair andCulver picked up short gains, along with Hoopengarner to move the ball inside the 10.
Vogel and Hoopengarner were both stuffed for no gain before Cachelin executed a play-action pass to Hoopengarner for a seven-yard score.
Vogel was tackled just short of the goal line on the two-point conversion and Wind River trailed 14-12 with 4:03 remaining in the game.
The Cougars sold out defensively trying to force a fumble and Jackson broke into the open on 62-yard scamper to the 8-yard line before Kline caught him.
A facemask penalty gave the Mustangs a first-and-goal at the four with 3:40 remaining.
A tackle for loss by Befus, a bad snap and a run for no gain left the Mustangs facing a fourth-and-goal from the 20, but Sorensen found Turner Logan at the goal line and Mitchell Clymer's ensuing kick put the game out of reach at 21-12 with less than a minute to play.
Casper insured the win when Antonio Harrington intercepted Cachelin at the 40.
Wind River has a big challenge next Friday at 6 p.m. when they host the Class 3-A Rawlins Outlaws in a first-ever meeting between the two schools.
Rawlins scored a come-from-behind 23-20 win over Evanston in its season opener.
Wind River0 6 0 6 - 12
Casper Natrona Sophomores 14 0 0 7 - 21
NC - Wilsk Jackson 19-pass from Ryan Sorensen (Cooper Quig from Sorensen) 8:17
NC - Isaac Palomo 58-pass from Sorensen (kick failed) 2:51
WR - Colter Culver 3-run (kick failed):00
WR - Ben Hoopengarner 7-pass from Dillan Cachelin (run failed) 4:03
NC - Turner Logan 20-pass from Sorensen (Mitchell Clymer kick) :57
Total Offense: Wind River - 189, Casper Natrona - 334
Individual Rushing: Wind River - Kage Vogel 13-47, Ben Hoopengarner 9-39, Jackson Clair 5-20, Dillan Cachelin 2-4, Kaden Dower 1-3, Colter Culver 2-7; Casper Natrona - Wilsk Jackson 23/158, Cooper Quig 3-12, Ryan Sorensen 3/(-18)
Individual Passing: Wind River - Dillan Cachelin 3-9-1 63 yards, Ben Hoopengarner 0-1, Kyle Laird 1-1 34 yards; Casper Natrona - Ryan Sorensen 5-9-0 155 yards
Individual Receiving: Wind River - Dalton Finley 3/69 Jackson Clair 1/21, Ben Hoopengarner 1/7; Casper Natrona - Turner Logan 2/21, Wilsk Jackson 3-42, Isaac Palomo 1/58, Cooper Quig 3-36