A rivalry born from epic battles in recent years continued on the gridiron Friday night in Lovell when the hometown Bulldogs edged the visiting Lyman Eagles 28-24 to pick up a key conference win.
The win improved the Bulldogs to 2-2 in the conference heading into a nonconference game at Thermopolis Friday night. The Bulldogs are 2-3 overall.
Lovell moved the ball all night and at times played solid defense, but some big plays kept Lyman in the game.
Coach Doug Hazen said the Bulldogs had the ball deep in Lyman territory three times early in the game but it took three chances before the Bulldogs hit paydirt.
“We had kind of a slow start,” Hazen summed up.
Hazen said Lyman fumbled on the first play from the line of scrimmage when senior Aaron Monterde blasted an Eagle running back. The Bulldogs recovered but stalled. After stopping Lyman, Lovell sputtered again. Getting the ball in Lyman territory a third time, the Bulldogs scored, finally, on a seven-yard run by Beau Green to lead 6-0 (two-point conversion failed).
Senior receiver Tristen Snyder made an outstanding play on Lovell’s next touchdown, Hazen said, as Green fired the ball and it was deflected, popping up into the air, but Snyder grabbed the ball and pulled it in for the 10-yard touchdown.
“He stays with it and catches it for a touchdown,” Hazen said in recounting the play. Green hit Dylan See for the conversion, giving the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
A Lovell fumble set up Lyman’s first score, as a short field for the Eagles led to a touchdown. Lovell seemingly had stopped Lyman on fourth down with a sack, but the Bulldogs were whistled for a facemask penalty, allowing Lyman to keep the ball and score on a 10-yard pass from Bryton Bluemel to Brandon Jaggi. Lovell led 14-6.
Bluemel hit Jaggi again from 10 yards out to keep Lyman close, trailing 14-12 at halftime.
Lovell put together a nice drive to start the second half, capped by a five-yard quarterback keeper by Green set up by runs of 13 yards by Brandon Teter and 14 by Cade Bischoff. Lovell led 20-12.
After forcing Lyman three and out, the Bulldogs were on the move again and drove the ball to the Lyman 13 before giving the ball over on downs.
Lovell again forced Lyman three and out, and a punt partially blocked by Teter set the Bulldogs up at the Lyman 36. The Lovell offense reached the 24 but again faltered, giving the ball back to the Eagles. Then the defense came up big.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Bluemel fired a pass toward the right sideline but Teter stepped in front of the aerial and returned the interception 30 yards for a pick six. Snyder was not to be denied on the two-point conversion, carrying tacklers into the end zone after catching a pass from Green. Lovell seemed to be in control leading 28-12.
Lyman battled back, however, driving 35 yards to the 20 where speedy Ryker Bess burst around right end and scooted into the end zone untouched. Lyman was back in it, trailing 28-18 with 8:15 to play.
“They kind of wear you down,” Hazen said. “We were tired and didn’t take the proper angles.”
Lovell drove to the 10-yard line on the next series but stalled, and Lyman drove 90 yards to score on a fourth-and-15 pass from the Lovell 45 to Skyler Walker, who broke some tackles along the way. Again, the try for two points failed, but Lyman was close trailing 28-24 with two minutes left.
“We had poor coverage on that play,” Hazen said. “We were screaming to cover number 88, and he ran a drag pattern. Then we took poor angles and didn’t wrap up and tackle.”
Anticipating the on-side kick, Hazen deployed the good-hands squad and Green recovered the kickoff for the Bulldogs. Green kept the drive alive with a nine-yard keeper on third and three, then took a knee on the ensuing play to seal the win.
“We moved it up and down the field, but then we would stall out in the red zone,” Hazen said. “Defensively, we were stuffing them, but at the end we kind of relaxed and let them go right downfield.
Green completed 12 of 27 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown. See caught four passes for 47 yards, Teter two for 62 yards, Snyder two for 28, Bischoff two for 25 and Britton Woody two for six.
Teter rushed for 108 yards on 19 carries, and Bischoff added 33 yards on nine carries. Green carried four times for 17 yards and two touchdowns.
Monterde led the Bulldogs in defensive points with 24 on 15 assisted tackles, three solo tackles and a sack. Riley Abraham added 22 points on six assisted tackles, five solo tackles, one tackle for a loss and a sack. See and Nash Jolley had 14 points each, Daniel Strom and Bischoff 12 points apiece.
The Bulldogs will travel to Thermopolis Friday to meet the Bobcats, now an East Conference foe, at 7 p.m. Thermop is 3-2 on the season with wins over Pinedale, Wright and Burns and losses to Big Horn and Wheatland.
Even though the game is not a conference game, Hazen said it’s important for the Bulldogs to build momentum and continue to improve.
“We need to prove to ourselves that we can compete, and if we want to go places we need to go on the road and pick up a win,” he said. “We’ve had no back-to-back wins this year, and now’s the time to start.”
Thermop plays a ground-oriented double wing offense but will also pass to keep a defense honest, Hazen said.
“They like to pull and get people to the point of attack,” he said. “They will also run the toss pass. They’ll go 80 percent run then try to get you with play action.”
The Bulldogs continue to nurse some injuries suffered at Mountain View the previous week. Green, Teter and Bischoff played Friday, but Drake Welch and Nic Haskell sat out. Both could play this week if they continue to improve, Hazen said.
By David Peck