Green River Star -

By Stephanie Harsha
Guest Writer 

Wolves come up short in down to the wire, nail-biting game

 

Star photo by Toby Trumble

Green River Wolf Cole White takes down one of Star Valley Braves.

A Green River Wolves last-minute touchdown wasn't enough to take down the Star Valley Braves top-ranked offense Friday night. After a hard fought barn burner of a night, the Star Valley Braves edged out the Wolves with a last-minute drive resulting in a game-winning field goal.

"Going into the game, we were trying to achieve a victory. It doesn't matter if we are playing an 0-5 or a 5-0 team, our goal is to win. We practiced very well all week and expected to compete well with the top-ranked Braves team," head coach Don Maggi said.

The Wolves came out swinging, setting up on their own 22-yard line and pushing a 4-play, 78-yard drive into the end zone. Play action gains from Candon Croft and Taylor Thornton and a touchdown from dual-threat quarterback Tyler Vendetti put the Wolves up 6-0 in the first few minutes of the game. The Braves were able to get a hand on the extra point, pushing the kick wide.

The Braves set up on their own 30-yard line, only to be thwarted by the Wolves defense. Pressure on Braves quarterback Reese Hiibel by Keanu Hill forces a short throw intercepted by Chance Hofer.

Green River capitalized on the interception, moving deep into Braves territory. A big 4th-down play catch by Taylor Thornton gets the Wolves to the 10-yard line, first and goal. However, penalties pushed the Wolves back and the Braves defense was able to hold the Wolves to a field goal, making the score 9-0 with about 5 minutes left to play in the first quarter.

The Braves offensive attack began chipping away yards towards the tail end of the first quarter, led by Braves backs Battleson and Hansen. After a bobbled, but saved catch, Sean Pittman brought the Braves deep into Wolves territory. A 7-yard run by Hansen put the Braves on the scoreboard. A blocked extra point kick left the scoreboard 9-6 Wolves.

The second quarter left both teams struggling to find the end zone. Big defensive stops by both teams left the scoreboard unchanged at the half.

The second half began with a thwarted Braves offensive drive with a forced 4th down punt giving the Wolves at the 36 yard line to begin their drive. But penalties and the Braves defense forced a Wolves punt.

After several forced punts and a missed field goal by Green River, the third quarter remained scoreless.

The final battle began with the start of the fourth quarter. After an immediate 1st down, Star Valley began the quarter with a strong 17-yard run by Jacobson and continued to finish the drive with a 25-yard touchdown run by Hansen. The Star Valley extra point was good, putting 7 points on the board and giving the Braves the lead, 12-9.

The Wolves took over the ball at their own 34-yard line and made an impressive push to Star Valley moved the ball down the field in four quick downs to kick the field goal and take the win, 16-15.

A big kick off return by Croft to the 47-yard line made it clear the Wolves were not giving up. A couple plays later, a pass interference penalty moves the Wolves into Braves territory at the 36-yard line. A big run by Vendetti put the Wolves within scoring range. However, the Braves defense held strong and took over at their own 15-yard line.

After several plays, a Braves recovered fumble, and a holding call, Star Valley was forced to punt to the Wolves. The Wolves took over at their own 34-yard line.

The Wolves began the drive that would put them in reach of the win. A Vendetti run the 50-yard line and a Drew Wilson tackle-breaking run pushed the Wolves into Star Valley territory. A catch by Riley Yeager brought the Wolves inside the 30-yard line. A pass interference call on the Braves gave the Wolves the first down at the 2-minute mark and deep in Star Valley territory.

A big pass play to Jacob Olsen put the Wolves in the end zone, putting the Wolves in the lead 15-13.

The game hinged on a last-minute drive by the Star Valley Braves. Star Valley, beginning the drive at their own 20-yard line. In six plays, the Star Valley Braves would push directly into Wolves territory and the Braves own Noah Hutchinson kicked a field goal to win the game.

"Our kids showed a lot of heart on Friday night rallying to take the lead with less than a minute remaining. They have played with great attitude and effort all season," Maggi said of the game.

Maggi commented that the Wolves defense, led by Bake Waite and the defensive line, really made the difference in the game.

Star photo by Toby Trumble

Jacob Olsen made it into the end zone, putting the Wolves in the lead 15-13.

"There were two keys to our defensive success on Friday. The first was the preparation of both our players and coaches. We studied them very well and were able to anticipate what plays they would run out of various formations and game situations. The second was that our kids played assignment football. Each player has a specific assignment on each play and our kids simply did their job," Maggi said.

The Wolves will take on the Cody Broncs this Friday at home.

"We feel really good about the performance and are optimistic about the future. If we continue to improve and compete, I like our chances of getting into the playoffs; and making some noise when we are there. This week's game against Cody will likely be the last home game for our seniors, it would be nice for them to end with a victory and secure a place in the playoffs," Maggi said.

 

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