RHS wins last-second comeback thrillerOct 1, 2017 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer
Slow and steady wins the race.
Except on some high school football Friday nights.
In a dramatic finish that was heartbreaking for the gritty Lander Tigers, German exchange student and Riverton Wolverines kicker Maurice Gartenschlaeger drilled a 48-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the game and gave his team a thrilling 30-27 win over cross-county rival Lander at Wolverine Field.
The field goal capped a furious final two minutes, which saw Lander take a touchdown lead when speedy Nathan Motherway sprinted left and around Riverton's defense for a 24-yard score with just 1:42 on the clock.
Motherway's scamper capped an 84-yard drive which started when Jori Shakespeare picked off Riverton's Treyton Paxton just as the Wolverines were threatening to take a late-game lead. It was Riverton's fourth turnover of the night.
Lander, which gained 308 yards rushing, had plenty of time to march down the field to setup Motherway's sprint to the goal line and add to its 21-20 advantage.
On every snap the entire game, Lander quarterback Max Mazurie patiently waited at the line of scrimmage, his team set, as the official behind Riverton's defense counted down the play clock and Lander's final drive was no exception.
"I was hoping to get it under a minute. We were trying to hold on for dear life," said Lander coach John Rounds. "We felt our best defense was to keep their offense of the field."
The drive had chewed over seven minutes off the clock.
As exciting as Motherway's under-two-minutes touchdown was for the Tigers, a low snap prevented Cody Renner from kicking the point after touchdown and Lander, with a 27-20 lead, gave Riverton hope.
Everyone, it seemed, wondered if Lander had scored too soon.
It didn't take long for Paxton, who, despite the one pick, looked sharp and threw for 323 yards on Friday, to give Riverton a chance.
Dawson Lane returned the ensuing kickoff to the 28-yard line. Paxton, with two timeouts in his pocket and 1:34 on the clock, went to work, first to his favorite target, Jaren Draper, and then to speedy Brodie Roden.
Another 30-yard pass to Roden gave Riverton a first-and-goal at the 10-yard line. Nic Fenton, who churned for 73 yards rushing on 17 carries, blasted his way to Lander's 4-yard line.
After a timeout, Paxton lofted an absolutely perfect fade to Draper, and just like that, Riverton was within one with 0:39 seconds on the clock.
It was Draper's second touchdown on the night. The first was an 80-yard connection from Paxton for Riverton's first score when he jumped for the ball in traffic, hauled it in and raced to the end zone.
Colton Patterson, in the third quarter, also was the recipient of a Paxton scoring pass.
After Draper's perfect catch on the fade, it was time for Gartenschlaeger, who before this year had never played a down of football, to put his signature on the game -- the Riverton vs. Lander rivalry he didn't know existed until this week.
His point-after was true and tied the game at 27-27.
"I thought about going for two and then just thought to get it to overtime," said Riverton head coach Pat Patterson.
His foreign exchange student -- Gartenschlaeger, who lives with the Patterson family -- didn't have overtime on his mind as he prepared to kickoff.
"The coach just told me, like if the guy is the goalkeeper in soccer," said Gartenschlaeger. "I just try to kick it and hit him, and I did."
It's the second time this season Gartenschlaeger has purposely aimed and hit an opponent on a kickoff, causing a misplay that Riverton recovered late in a game.
This time, Lander's Conrad Swenson was the unknowing target. Gartenschlaeger's squib bounced off Swenson's shin into the hands of Riverton's Daryl Mellor.
"(Offensive coordinator) Beau Sheets and I were talking," said Patterson. "This was just like the Glenrock game. By them scoring with time on the clock, it's almost in our favor."
Paxton found Roden for an eight-yard gain, spiked the ball on second down, couldn't complete the third-down pass and Riverton was left with a fourth-and-1 on Lander's 32-yard line and spent its last timeout.
With Draper holding, Gartenschlaeger's 48-yard field goal was high and long, right through the middle of the goal posts, with yards to spare. The Riverton bench went crazy as did the Riverton band and fans.
Riverton's win overshadowed a gutsy performance from the Tigers.
Lander had jumped out to an early 13-0 lead when DeAundre Velarde, who led all rushers with 182 yards, and Motherway scored first-half touchdowns.
Both Velarde and Motherway had two touchdowns and along with Brody Dempster, ran hard all night.
"That has been our thing. Our offensive line has taken ownership up front and that is who we are," said Rounds. "They were hurting (after the game) and that's a good thing. They care and gave everything they had to give. It was a fun game to be a part of. We haven't been in many of those situations the last couple of years."
Riverton will host Rawlins at Wolverine Field this Friday, while Lander also will be at home against Buffalo.
Lander 7 6 8 6-- 27
Riverton 0 7 13 10-- 30
LAN - Velarde 3-yard run (Renner kick), 0:52.
LAN - Motherway 8-yard run (PAT failed), 8:41.
RIV - Draper, 80-yard pass from Paxton (Gartenschlaeger kick), 3:49.
RIV - Patterson, 11-yard pass from Paxton (Gartenschlaeger kick), 10:15.
LAN - Velarde 2-yard run (Velarde 2-point conversion), 4:16.
RIV - Fenton 2-yard run (PAT failed), 1:18.
LAN - Motherway 23-yard run (PAT failed), 1:42.
RIV - Draper, 4-yard pass from Paxton (Gartenschlaeger kick), 0:39.
RIV - Gartenschlaeger, 48-yard field goal, 0:13.
LAN - Velarde 27-182, Motherway 9-70, Dempster 59, Shakespeare 3-21, Mazurie 5-(-24). Totals 54-308.
RIV - Fenton 17-73, Paxton 7-11. Totals 24-84.
LAN - Mazurie 5-9-0 40. RIV - Paxton 23-35-1 323.
LAN - Swenson 3-22, Jay 1-11, Velarde 1-7. RIV Draper 10-182, Roden 6-69, Patterson 6-67, Gartenschlaeger 1-5.
LAN - Shakespeare 15, Demptser 7, Velarde 8, Roy 10, Bennett 12, Renner 16, Skinner 1, Lesher 3, Atnip 2, Motherway 4. Brady 2. Swenson 10. Haberman 10, Debolt 2, Applegate 5, Fawson 1, Cronk 1.
RIV - Campbell 15, Yellowbear 9, Draper 22, Roden 9, Lane 11, Alley 8.5, Nyberg 5.5 Garcia 13, Muehler 1, Patterson 3, Lange 6, Riley 6, Lawson 4, Fenton 5, Gartenschlaeger 2, Reese 1, Mellor 5.5, Gartenschlaeger 2, Reese 1, Mellor 5.