It wasn’t their best overall effort, and they missed some opportunities, but the Lovell Bulldogs lived up to their number-one ranking and celebrated homecoming with a 21-7 win over the second-ranked Lyman Eagles Friday night at Robertson Stadium.
“It was good to get a win,” coach Doug Hazen said. “It’s also nice as a coach, after you’ve had time to reflect on it, to beat a good team even when you don’t play your best. Typically, that doesn’t happen.”
Lovell dominated the first half, taking a 21-0 lead before a fired-up home crowd. Quarterback Dylan Hultgren found Cody Savage for a 15-yard touchdown pass as the Bulldogs led 7-0 after the first quarter.
The home team added two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter, Dino Collins scoring on a two-yard run and Mark Grant adding a five-yard run.
Turnovers were a major factor in the game, Hazen said. Lovell intercepted the Eagles four times with McKayan May swiping two aerials, Mark Grant and Hunter Hinckley one each. Lyman also fumbled the ball on a fake punt and failed to convert in the red zone on a strong goal line stand by the Bulldogs.
“They turned the ball over to us six times,” Hazen said, counting the goal line stand. “We got a couple of scores after we intercepted it, but we still had to drive it. Then in the second half we turned the ball over to them in the red zone twice. They were still pinned in their end of the field and had to drive the length of the field to score, whereas ours (interceptions) were more midfield.”
Lyman scored on a four-yard pass in the third quarter to get back into the game, but the Bulldog defense held the visitors out of the end zone the rest of the way.
“They out-gained us by more than 100 yards, but that’s misleading,” Hazen said, “because they had long drives at the end of the half and the end of the game that they got no points out of. We were giving up things underneath in each situation.
“We did play a good first half and executed pretty well. The second half wasn’t as good. I think there was some fatigue. This was the first game where our starters played in the second half. That was very good for our kids.”
Hazen said his squad suffered from fumbles and dropped passes after intermission and wasn’t nearly as crisp as the first half. He also said the Bulldogs went to a more conservative running game in the second half and the Eagles loaded up against the run.
Lovell finished with 178 yards rushing and 161 passing. Dino Collins dominated the ground game, picking up 123 yards on 35 carries. Grant and Savage each picked up 21 yards on the ground.
Hultgren completed 15 of 25 passes for 161 yards. Savage caught seven passes for 42 yards, May three for 42, Collins two for 30, Collin McArthur one for 13 and Grant one for 6.
Lyman rushed for 209 yards Friday and passed for 211.
On the defensive side, linebacker Mark Grant led the Bulldogs with 22 defensive points on five assisted tackles, one unassisted tackle, two tackles for a loss, two pass breakups and an interception.
Hinckley added 21 points on six assisted tackles, three solo tackles, two pass breakups and an interception, and May had 20 points, Collins 17, Nathan Grant 16 and Dillon Pickett 14.
Now it’s Lovell’s turn to make the long drive to southwest Wyoming as the Bulldogs will take on the Mountain View Buffaloes Friday at 4 p.m. Mountain View is 2-1 on the season with wins over Cokeville, 6-3, and Big Piney, 42-0. The Buffs also fell at Greybull, 21-7.
“We’ve got to guard against a letdown after our big win Friday,” Hazen said. “We’ve got to get up again. There’s still a target on their back.”
Hazen said Mountain View is a run-oriented team that utilizes two tight ends and three running backs in a full-house backfield.
“We want to get a lead and dictate what they do,” he said.
By David Peck