In the end, it all came down to the strong right arm of Beau Green and his athletic receiver Brandon Teter.
Green’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Teter with just 26 seconds left in the game propelled the Lovell Bulldogs to a dramatic 21-18 win over the previously undefeated Greybull Buffaloes and the 2A West Conference championship Friday night in Greybull.
The win left Lovell undefeated in conference play (6-0) and 7-1 overall. The top-seeded Bulldogs will now host Thermopolis Friday in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs – a rematch of the Oct. 9 game won by Lovell 41-18.
“My hat goes off to Greybull,” Lovell coach Doug Hazen said. “They’re an exceptional football team, and they’re going to be good for a while. They have a lot of young football players.
“I’ve always said you win with upper-classmen, especially seniors. But they have a number of freshmen, sophomores and juniors playing and very few seniors (six). They are big and physical and fast. They are a very good football team.”
Hazen knew the Buffs would come out and establish the run, but then throw the ball, and he said his staff did a good job scouting the Buffs to learn tendencies out of formations and situations, and he said the Lovell players executed the game plan very well.
“We knew we’d have to stop the run first, and we held them to 44 yards rushing,” Hazen said. “They pretty much abandoned it (the running game) in the second half.
“We wanted to get pressure on (Riley) Hill. We had about four sacks and knocked him down a number of other times. We put on a lot of pressure. I thought our defensive line played really well.”
Offensively, the Bulldogs battled field position issues during the game, in part due to the strong Greybull defense but also the kicking game. Greybull executed the “coffin corner” kickoff to perfection, pinning the Bulldogs deep in their own end of the field on several occasions.
“We didn’t do a very good job with our kickoff returns,” Hazen said. “They did a great job of pinning us deep. Our field position was horrendous. That made it hard to call plays and get out of the hole.”
When the Bulldogs had the ball, Greybull emphasized stopping the run, and while the Bulldogs found some success running between the tackles, they had trouble getting outside due to Greybull’s fast outside linebackers. Passing was hit and miss, he added, with the home team’s fast pass-rushers applying pressure.
“We had trouble getting into our rhythm offensively,” Hazen said.
Still, in a game of big plays, the Bulldogs made the last one to come out with the win.
The first quarter was a defensive battle as the two teams combined for 48 yards and two first downs, both by Lovell. With neither team able to move the ball, Lovell made a huge defensive play when Riley Abraham slices in from the edge to block a Greybull punt, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the Greybull 13. Green hit Nic Haskell for a 12-yard gain, and one play later Tyler Teter powered off left tackle for a one-yard touchdown run. Brandon Teter’s PAT put Lovell up 7-0.
Another big defensive play – this time by Greybull – set up the Buffs’ first score. Facing third and 11 at the Lovell 6-yard line, Green dropped back to pass but the ball came out of his hand just as he was cocking to throw the ball. Greybull recovered the fumble at the Lovell two, and Dawson Forcella scored on the next play. Greybull initially converted the PAT, but a false start was whistled, and the Bulldogs blocked the re-kick, leaving Lovell up 7-6 early in the second quarter.
Lovell drove 75 yards to score on the ensuing series as Green found fullback Abraham over the middle for a 34-yard gain, then went deep to Brandon Teter down the right side. The junior caught the ball over his shoulder and raced to the end zone for a 39-yard scoring play. The PAT was wide, but Lovell led 13-6.
Greybull drove 72 yards to score on the next series. A third-down interference call kept the drive for Greybull, and Hill hit Miguel Gomez for 17 and Dawson McEwen for 20 before lofting the ball to the end zone from the Lovell 19. The ball was batted but fell into Gomez’s hands for a touchdown. The PAT missed, but Greybull trailed by only one point, 13-12, with 3:27 to play in the first half.
The Greybull kickoff left Lovell buried at the 10, and when Brandon Teter was hit for a six-yard loss the Bulldogs were pushed back even further and had to punt. Greybull had great field position at the Lovell 42 and drove to score the go-ahead touchdown. Hill hit Forcella for 27 yards, then found Gomez for a 19-yard touchdown pass over the middle. The PAT was muffed, but Greybull led 18-13 with 48 seconds left in the half and carried that lead into halftime.
Greybull took the second-half kickoff and drove 66 yards to the Lovell five. Ten out of the Buffs’ 13 plays were passing plays, and they advanced the ball downfield until reaching the Lovell 9. Three plays produced four yards, and on fourth and goal from the five, Hill threw just behind Jordan Jackson in the end zone, and the Bulldogs avoided getting behind even further.
Hazen said it surprised him when the Buffs “came out firing” and said it took some time for the defense to adjust, which the Bulldogs did for the rest of the game.
Once again stuck in a hole, the Bulldogs drove 66 yards into Greybull territory as the Lovell running game came alive. Green, Ty Teter and Abraham all had big gainers during the drive, but the Bulldogs ended up giving the ball up on downs at the Greybull 29.
The rest of the game was a defensive struggle as the two teams combined for 72 yards until Lovell’s 58-yard game-winning drive. An interception by Green ended one Greybull drive, and a fumble on the next series was recovered by Kenneth Powell. Lovell had good field position and reached the Greybull 23, but Brandon Teter’s fourth-down wide receiver pass to Abraham was broken up. Shaken up, a limping Abraham left the field and did not return.
With time running short, Greybull was able to pick up one first down, then punted. Lovell started the two-minute offense with 1:37 left, and senior quarterback Green went to work. He powered for seven yards on second and 10, then hit Brandon Teter for a 25-yard gain on a pass that was tipped but snared by Teter at the Greybull 26.
A sideline pass missed, then Ty Teter was hit for a loss on a sweep and a third-down pass missed when the receiver slipped. It was fourth and 11 from the Greybull 27 when Green dropped back and fired the ball deep to Brandon Teter, who leapt high in the end zone in a battle for the ball and came up with it for the touchdown. Green scored the two-point conversion, and Lovell led 21-18 with 26 seconds left.
Greybull reached midfield in the final seconds, but Hill’s final pass was picked off by Green, preserving a dramatic Lovell victory.
Lovell out-gained Greybull on the ground 109-52, though the Buffs had the edge through the air 198-148.
Ty Teter led the Bulldogs with 86 yards rushing on 18 carries, and Green added 17 yards on 14 carries, Abraham 12 yards on three attempts.
Green completed 9 of 26 passes for 148 yards. Brandon Teter caught five passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns, Ty Teter two for 2 yards, Abraham one for 34 yards and Haskell one for 12.
Jaret Collins and Abraham led the Bulldogs with 25 defensive points each, and Kenneth Powell added 22 points, Haskell 20, Konner Davis 16, Green 14 and Ty Teter 13.
As the number one seed, the Bulldogs will be home for the next two weekends if they win. First up is the Thermopolis Bobcats, who clobbered Newcastle 28-0 Friday night in a battle for the final playoff spot in the east. Thermop went 3-3 in the 2A East, 3-5 overall with losses to Lovell and Pinedale out of the 2A West.
Thermop and Lovell were tied 18-18 at halftime in Lovell on Oct. 9, but Lovell made some defensive adjustments in the second half and outscored the Bobcats 23-0 in the second half to win. The Bulldogs were missing two key linebackers (Ty Teter and Kenneth Powell) in the game who have since returned to action.
Lovell dropped several interceptions in the earlier game, and Hazen said the Bulldogs will have to
be better Friday night.
“We’ve got to be better defensively than we were in the first go-round when we allowed 18 points in the first half,” he said. “Offensively, we’ll have to figure out what adjustments they’ll make and see if we can exploit them.”
Hazen said Abraham was hurting after the game and will be rested some this week in hopes that he can return for the game Friday.
If the Bulldogs win, they’ll host the winner
of the Glenrock-Mountain View game the following weekend.
By David Peck