It wasn’t exactly a classic in terms of execution when one of Wyoming’s top rivalries resumed Friday night at Robertson Stadium in Lovell. After all, the two teams combined for eight turnovers. But the Lovell Bulldogs persevered over the Lyman Eagles and their relentless running attack to win 32-26 and move to 3-0 on the young season, 2-0 in the 2A West.
For Coach Doug Hazen, it was another test passed for his young squad.
“It seems every week we face a tougher and tougher opponent, and we run into adversity as we go. Even real good teams are going to have that,” Hazen said, noting key fumbles that gave Lyman short fields to score and the fact that the Bulldogs trailed the Eagles in both the first and second quarters. “We had opportunities to throw in the towel, but the kids did a good job responding and doing what they needed to do to win the game.”
Lyman ran the ball an amazing 64 times for 495 yards, though the Eagles also failed to complete a pass, well, except for the two interceptions that the Bulldogs ran back for touchdowns.
“We knew what would happen,” Hazen said. “They couldn’t throw the ball. Last year they had more guys with a passing skill set. That took some of my attention from the running game. It finally donned on me that they spread us out but they want to run the football – a lot. Their system is to spread you out but 90 percent of the time run the football.
“They have two studs (quarterback Landen Bradshaw and halfback Tui Magalogo) with different running styles, but both are hard to defend. We knew what they were doing but still gave up nearly 500 yards rushing.”
Bradshaw, really a fullback playing the quarterback position, gained 261 yards on 33 carries, and Magalogo, as elusive and slippery a back as the Bulldogs will see this season, added 230 yards on 30 carries.
“There were times when we thought we had them, but they would break tackles,” Hazen said. “We were bending a lot but not breaking. As many mistakes as we made, they made them, too, but they made two critical mistakes that hurt them.”
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, featured a balanced offensive attack that produced 131 yards rushing and 157 passing for 288 yards of total offense. They also ran two interceptions back for touchdowns.
Quarterback Beau Green completed 14 of 21 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Dillon Pickett rushed for 120 yards on 11 carries.
Hazen said he was pleased with his team’s offensive production, especially considering that senior center Morgan May had to miss the game with an injury and junior guard Aaron Monterde couldn’t play in the second half due to cramping.
“We wanted to keep them off balance and take what they were giving us,” Hazen said. “We had two linemen hurt, and Beau was banged up but kept going. I was proud of a number of kids who stepped in at a number of positions.”
Lovell stopped Lyman three and out on the first series of the game, thwarting a fake punt on fourth down, then drove 44 yards to score. The Bulldogs ran a fake punt of their own on fourth and six at the Lyman 39 when Green hit Michael Brightly over the middle for a 33-yard gain. Four plays later, Green sprinted to the right and hit Drake Welch in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The PAT was blocked, leaving Lovell up 6-0.
The Bulldogs allowed two first downs on the next Lyman series but eventually forced a punt that carried into the end zone. On the first play from scrimmage at the 20, the Eagles stripped the ball from Pickett and recovered at the 14. On the next play Bradshaw powered to the left, broke tackles and scored. A two-point conversion failed, leaving the score knotted at 6.
On the ensuing series, Green was sacked and fumbled, handing the ball to Lyman at the Lovell 33. Four plays later, Magalogo burst around left end and scored. Daniel Strom and Calin McArthur stopped Bradshaw on the two-point run, but Lyman had the lead, 12-6, late in the first quarter.
Lovell responded with a 57-yard drive to tie the score as Pickett ran hard and Green hit Hyrum Hopkin for 18, gained seven yards on a quarterback keeper and fired a pass over the middle to Welch for an 18-yard touchdown. The PAT was blocked again, leaving the score tied 12-12.
Lyman drove to the Lovell 11, but on third and six, Hopkin stepped in front of a Bradshaw pass and raced 95 yards for a touchdown. Lovell led 18-12.
Lyman came back strong from the setback to drive 72 yards for a touchdown as Bradshaw and Magalogo chewed up yardage. Bradshaw took it in from 12 yards out, then scored the two-point conversion to put the Eagles up 20-18.
A third Lovell fumble gave the ball back after the Bulldogs drove the ball to the Lyman 10, and the visitors responded by driving to the Lovell 47, but with the seconds ticking away in the first half, the Eagles went to the air again and this time Pickett snared the aerial and raced 60 yards for a second Lovell pick-six. Lovell led 24-20 at halftime.
Lovell took charge of the game on the first series of the second half, driving 61 yards to score in four plays. Green completed passes of 7 and 12 to Pickett and Welch, which caused Lyman to blitz the quarterback. But offensive coordinator Bob Weber called the perfect play, a draw, and Pickett burst down the left sideline for a 42-yard touchdown run. The two-point pass was deflected but caught by Hopkin, and Lovell led 32-20.
After a defensive third quarter that included two more fumbles and three punts, Lyman drove 51 yards to score early in the fourth quarter. Magalogo scored from 30 yards out, and Lyman was back in the game trailing 32-26.
Lovell responded by driving to the Lyman 5-yard line. Pickett gained four yards on first down, but the Bulldogs attempted three quarterback sneaks. It appeared that Green was in on the third-down try, but the Eagles held.
Lyman methodically drove 72 yards, but the running game allowed the clock to keep running and on third and six at the Lovell 27, Bradshaw attempted to spike the ball to stop the clock but dropped the ball. Lovell recovered to preserve the win.
“In the second half only giving up six points was big,” Hazen said. “We mixed up our fronts on the defensive line and had our linemen stand up to disguise our formations, which upset their blocking scheme.
“We have to take better care of the football. We were loose with the football. We talk every day in practice that the ball is the issue and you need to take care of it. Early, especially, we were shooting ourselves in the foot, giving them the ball at our end of the field.”
Welch finished with five receptions for 57 yards, Pickett three for 28 yards, Chase Rasmussen three for 28, Brightly one for 33, Hopkin one for 18 and McArthur one for six.
On the other side of the ball, Welch led the team in defensive points with 26 on 11 assisted tackles, six unassisted tackles and one tackle for a loss. Pickett added 24 points on 10 assisted tackles, three solo tackles, one tackle for a loss and an interception. Zeke Collins had 23 points on 11 assisted tackles, two solo tackles and three tackles for a loss. Nash Jolley had 18 defensive points, McArthur 17, Dylan See and Daniel Strom 16 each and Chase Rasmussen 13.
Lovell’s ascending schedule of tougher opponent takes a serious jump this week when the Bulldogs make the long trip to Uinta County to meet the 3-0 Mountain View Buffaloes. Mountain View has defeated 1A power Cokeville 27-21, Greybull 14-6 and Big Piney 41-0. Hazen knows the Bulldogs will have their work cut out for them.
“They have a good, powerful running back and an athletic quarterback who can both throw and run with the ball, and they have athletic receivers,” Hazen said. “They’ll make it tough on us to defend both the pass and run.
“If we let the quarterback out of the pocket he can run a long way, and he’s also a very good passer. They’re a very tough team right now. On defense they have a four-man front and vary their coverages. They’re pretty stout on defense.”
Kickoff in Mountain View Friday is set for 3:30 p.m.
by David Peck