Tigers take huge step in defeatOct 1, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
On Friday night at Wolverine Field in Riverton, the Lander Valley Tigers did everything required to win a football game.
Except actually win it.
Lander controlled the clock, ran the ball effectively and scored the most points they have in a single contest for nearly four years.
However, once the smoke had cleared -- literally, with the sideline cannon spewing smoke into the sky after every Riverton score -- the Tigers walked off the field with nothing more than another loss to show for their efforts.
But, despite the fact the 30-27 defeat to the rival Wolverines was as painful as a loss could possibly be, with the cruel manner in which it occurred, Lander head coach John Rounds couldn't complain a single bit about his club's performance.
"Sure, it's tough to lose a game like that," he said. "But, what I saw was a lot of guys leave absolutely everything out on the field and I couldn't be prouder of their effort. I'll go to battle with them anytime."
Even more vexing was the fact the Tigers won the possession and turnover battles, ultimately to no avail.
"It was part of our game plan to run the clock. You don't have too many football games when the team who has the most possession and fewer turnovers loses," said Rounds. "But, give credit where it's due -- Riverton made plays."
One of those plays was an 80-yard touchdown pass from Wolverines quarterback Treyton Paxton to wideout Jaren Draper with the Tigers leading 13-0 late in the second quarter.
"Giving that one up when we did hurt us quite a bit," said Rounds. "If they don't get that, we go into the locker room up 13-0 and are in a real good position."
Still, the Tigers took a lead into the half after having scored the game's first points and scored all of their opening-half points off Riverton turnovers.
"We did a lot of things in that game we haven't done for a long time," he said. "We got an early lead, gave it up, then got it back. We made a lot of good moves as a program and we continue to head in the right direction, but ultimately, we're going to need to start putting wins on the board."
Lander (1-4, 0-2 Class 3-A East) will next face Buffalo at home on Friday, which will provide the Tigers to continue to build on the momentum they gained against the Wolverines, along with the 12-0 homecoming victory against Thermopolis earlier this season.
For Rounds, he knows he couldn't have expected any more from his charges against the Wolverines, he said.
"I can't ask anything more from our offense, especially," said Rounds. "Unfortunately, we did just about everything we needed to win, but couldn't get a bounce at the end."