By Rebecca Maupin
The Upton-Sundance Patriots had a big win over the Pine Bluffs Hornets on Friday night. Aside from being Homecoming in Sundance, there was a lot was riding on this game. The winner, getting the #2 seed, will host the opening round of playoffs on October 26.
While the game started out rough for both sides, a bad snap on the Pine Bluffs fourth down sent the punter back to fall on top of the ball, putting the Patriots at their own 35-yard line and in great scoring position. With a penalty on the Hornets, the Pats moved five yards closer, facing a second down.
The Patriots were able to push the ball to a first and goal with two minutes left in the first quarter and on the very next play, Clayton Louderback was able to keep the ball and run it in for a touchdown, making the Patriots the first to strike. With an extra point by Jerrett Schloredt the score was 7-0 with 1:46 left in the first quarter.
The fans were charged as the Upton-Sundance defense was able to end the first quarter with two sacks on the Pine Bluffs quarterback as well as the lead.
The second quarter saw the Hornets punt the ball away and the Patriots taking over, gaining a few yards at a time. As they worked their way down the field, Louderback handed the ball off to Jayden Caylor and he brought them into scoring territory. On the next play Louderback found Kye Taylor wide open in the end zone and the Patriots had another touchdown.
After the kickoff, the Hornets started out from the 35-yard line and an 11-yard run on third down got them to midfield. A big holding call on the Hornets negated the 15-yard run on the next second down play, but another good run put them at third and seven.
An incomplete pass and false start on fourth down forced the Hornets to punt the ball away again and the Patriots are able to take over on the 20-yard line with 3:28 to go. With a 3 and out, the Patriots punted the ball away to the 41.
Another bad snap resulted in a blocked punt for the Patriots. On the 33-yard line, Louderback was able to find a leaping Jess Claycomb in the end zone increasing the score to 19. With 1:31 left to go in the half, the US Patriots went for a two-point conversion and increased the score to 21.
While the next possession got the Hornets close, they were unable to come up with a fresh set of downs and the Patriots took over once again with great field position. With 28 seconds to go, Louderback made a 43-yard pass to Braden Bruce, who was able to get into the end zone yet again. With another extra point, the score was 28-0 at the half.
The Patriots started the second half by returning the opening kick across midfield but a holding call would put them back as the drive for the end zone started. A bad snap by the Patriots on fourth down resulted in a loss of yardage, but a facemask on the Hornets would give the Patriots another chance to punt and Schloredt was able to pin them back on the 10-yard line. The rest of the quarter saw each team gaining yardage and trading punts.
The fourth quarter saw Pine Bluffs gaining yardage fast. A timeout was called with 10:09 left on the clock. The play call made in the time out was executed as the Hornets were in the end zone making the score 28-7.
With 4:37 left on the clock, Tanner Hofland was able to break through the middle for another Patriot touchdown. With another extra point from Schloredt, the quarter was running down and the score was 35-7. The Hornets were racing against the clock and looking for some points and with 42 seconds to go they were able to find the end zone on a 32-yard pass making the final score of the night 35-14.
With this win, the Patriots have secured the #2 seed for the upcoming playoffs.
“I was proud of our kids on Friday,” Coach Garland commented, “Pine is a very good team and I thought we played very well. Our kids made some big plays in crucial moments when we needed them.”
As the Patriots prepare for their next game, coach Garland states, “We will try to improve in doing the little things better. As soon as we know who we play in two weeks, we will start preparing for them.”
The Patriots’ opponent is yet to be determined but the game will be held in Sundance on October 26. The game on Thursday against the Natrona sophomores has been cancelled.
Stats from the game:
Passing: Louderback 9/16/128 (3 TD, 1 INT), Caylor 1/1/8
Rushing: Louderback 11/43 (1 TD), Hofland 11/47 (1 TD), Caylor 10/27
Receiving: Caylor 3/39, Claycomb 2/43 (1 TD), Taylor 3/12 (1 TD), Bruce 1/34 (1 TD), Louderback 1/8
Points: Caylor 26, Hofland 24, Gillespie 20.5, Louderback 17