CHEYENNE – Cheyenne South’s first passing touchdown of the season came when it was needed the most.
Braeden Hughes found a wide-open Kobe Barto in the back of the endzone with 16 seconds left in the game. That 8-yard touchdown pass – followed by a converted 2-point attempt – gave the Bison a 36-35 win over Laramie for their first victory of the season Friday night at Bison Stadium.
“I just did not want to go into overtime,” said South coach Dan Gallas when asked about the decision to go for the win. “We had too many things go wrong throughout the night, and I figured we could make a play work there.
“Our offense can get three of four yards anytime if we just execute.”
The Bison (1-6) started the game with a 10-play, 80-yard opening drive, which was capped by a 7-yard Alex Soto touchdown run.
Jadyn Cummings ran in the 2-point conversion to give South an early 8-0 lead.
Laramie (1-6) was quick to tie it.
The Plainsmen marched down the field behind a strong rushing attack.
Junior Isaac Sell rushed for 51 yards on Laramie’s first drive and bulldozed in for his first touchdown of the game from 1 yard out. Janson Adair ran in the 2-point conversion on a jet sweep and tied the game at 8-8.
With 1 minute, 30 seconds left in the first quarter, Hughes tossed his second pass of the game, and it was intercepted by Connor Killpack.
The turnover led to a Colter Nunn 6-yard touchdown run with 21 seconds left in the first quarter to give the visiting team a 15-8 lead.
“We had a game plan on how we wanted to approach the game,” third-year Laramie coach Clint Reed said. “We wanted to run the ball and it was working well for us.”
Both teams continued to put points on the board in the second quarter.
After Soto ran for his second touchdown of the game to even the score, Sell rushed for his second score of the game from 13 yards out and gave the Plainsmen the 22-15 advantage after a David Tangeman extra point was good.
Cummings quickly answered when he took the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for the score. The extra point was no good from Adrian Reynolds, and Laramie was still clinging onto a one-point lead.
Nunn found paydirt to extend Laramie’s lead to seven just before the break.
Both teams found success on the ground and rushed for over 200 yards in the first half – Laramie with 269 and South with 203.
“We struggled defensively in the sense of assignment football,” Reed said. “(South’s) quarterback was elusive (in their triple option) and that mesh point is mesmerizing; you want to follow where you think the ball is and not what your job is.”
The defenses stepped up in the third quarter as the only score came on a Hughes 3-yard touchdown run, which tied the game at 28-28.
The fourth quarter was an emotional roller-coaster for both teams.
After Calvin Webb blocked a Reynolds field goal, Laramie got the ball and turned that opportunity into a 17 play, 80-yard drive while taking just shy of 7 minutes off the clock.
Nunn scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:25 to finish off the drive and give his squad a 35-28 lead.
Cummings was able to get another great return of 51 yards to help set South up for the game winning score.
Hughes kept the ball on an option play for the go-ahead points and the Bison fans began to get anxious.
Laramie had a chance at the end when Tangeman lined up for a 47-yard field goal, but the kick fell short, and the Bison prevailed.
“We had to overcome a lot of things tonight,” Gallas said. “I’m just proud of our guys ability to stay resilient and overcome everything to get the victory.”
SOUTH 36, LARAMIE 35
Laramie............. 15 13 0 7 – 35
Cheyenne South...8 14 7 7 – 36
CS: Soto 7-yard run (2-point conversion good) 7:33
L: Sell 1-yard run (2-point conversion good) 5:30
L: Nunn 6-yard run (Tangeman kick) 0:21
CS: Soto 1-yard run (Reynolds kick) 8:30
L: Sell 13- yard run (Tangeman kick) 5:51
CS: Cummings 89-yard kick off (Reynolds kick no good) 5:40
L: Nunn 3-yard run (Tangeman kick no good)
CS: Hughes 3-yard run (Reynolds kick) 2:35
L: Nunn 2-yard run (Tangeman kick) 2:25
CS: Barto pass from Hughes (2-point conversion good) 0:16
Laramie: Nunn 19-162, Sell 15-186, Eaton 1-9, Dodd 6-1, Killpack 4-21. Cheyenne South: Hughes 11-82, Cummings 6-77, Wright 9-53, Trujillo 1- (minus 1), Moyte 1-4, Soto 16-82.
Laramie: Dodd 6-11 61. Cheyenne South: Hughes 6-11 86
Laramie: Adair 4-43, Killpack 1-15, Sell 1-3. Cheyenne South: Cummings 1-5, Soto 3-60, Barto 13-8.