BIG HORN — The Rams returned to their winning ways Friday in their return home.
They defeated the Wright Panthers 57-21 behind the legs and arm of Connor McCafferty on a wet day in Big Horn.
McCafferty threw for three scores and ran for two more, his mobility sparking the team out of a slow start that had them trailing briefly 7-6, in the first quarter.
Head coach Michael McGuire said he challenged his team following their 34-19 loss last week in Burns.
“It was kind of gut check time for us our effort (last week) wasn’t as good as what it needed to be and what we expect,” he said. “I was pleased. We had a good week of practice, we really pushed them hard this week and they responded.”
The senior quarterback found room on the left side for a 15-yard keeper in the first quarter, but Wright’s Kodiak French would find Alex Ferguson on a short pass to take the lead after a missed extra point from Big Horn. From there, McCafferty looked to be bottled up near the sideline on the following drive but made the majority of Wright’s secondary miss as he switched fields and ran it in from 52 yards.
Big Horn amassed 328 yards rushing, with McCafferty and Colter Carzoli both surpassing the 100-yard mark. The team finished with 505 total yards behind McCafferty’s economical 10-12 day for 177 yards through the air.
The Rams executed on offense, putting the game out of reach, 34-7, at halftime. More importantly, they took care of the ball in a manner they hadn’t yet showed this year. Big Horn forced five turnovers — three recovered fumbles and Ryan Kobielusz had two interceptions — and didn’t cough up the ball once Friday.
The Big Horn defensive front made life difficult for Wright quarterback Kodiak French throughout the contest, and Mason Lube, Andrew Ratty and Kris Johnson each recovered a fumble Friday.
Carzoli, at linebacker, forced a fumble that would eventually set up his own five-yard touchdown run to make the score 21-7. McCafferty found Mayer twice in a matter of less than three minutes for scores of 40 and 17 yards to cap the second quarter onslaught from Big Horn.
“We had a couple penalties today but we didn’t turn the ball over,” McGuire said.” That’s been a focus of ours, and to be able to take care of the football under the conditions with it wet and everything is a good job by our kids of focusing in on what we’ve been trying to improve on.”
McCafferty found Seth Kite on the sideline in the third quarter, with Kite doing the hard work breaking a tackle on a 38-yarder into the end zone. Corey Sturza added his second touchdown in as many weeks when he ran one in from seven yards late in the third. The Rams wound down the clock with good play out of junior varsity guys in the fourth quarter. Their offense had built a 44-point lead entering the final period.
Wright made the score respectable late in the game when Daniel Magana scored twice from inside the Big Horn 20-yard line. They recovered an onside kick after Magana’s first score to set up the second. Big Horn’s Noah Iberlin would bounce a run to the outside and notch the game’s final points late in the fourth quarter.
“Our offense, our tempo was a little slow to start the game, but once we were able to kind of get it going and get them on their heels a little bit, I thought our offense did a really good job of pushing the pace and dictating what they had to do defensively.”
The Rams have scored at least 50 points in each of their three wins, but McGuire said in week four his team remains a work in progress.
“All year long we’ve done a good job of forcing turnovers,” he said “We’ve still got some stuff to get cleaned up there on defense, and on offense, but I thought our effort today was much improved.”
Big Horn’s next two feature stiffer competition as they travel to Glenrock next week and then to Wheatland before returning home for their final two games of the season against Moorcroft and Tongue River.
BH: 15 yard run by McCafferty 6-0
WHS: Kodiak French five-yard pass to Alex Furgeson 7-6
BH: McCafferty 52-yard run (2-pt conversion, McCafferty pass to Richard Stanley) 14-7
BH: Colter Carzoli 5-yard run 21-7
BH: McCafferty 40-yard pass to Christian Mayer 28-7
BH: McCafferty 17-yard pass to Christian Mayer 34-7
BH: McCafferty 38-yard pass to Seth Kite 41-7
BH: Corey sturza seven-yard run 48-7
BH: Carzoli 17-yard field goal 52-7
WHS: Daniel Magana 1-yard run 52-13
WHS: Daniel Magana 15-yard run 52-21
BH: Noah Iblerin run 57-21
Team totals (Wright-Big Horn)
First downs 15-19
Yards per carry 6.3-5.2
Passing Yards 177-123
Total plays 64-64
Total offense 505-326
Return yds. 16–1
Rushing: McCafferty 7-105, Carzoli 17-123, Richard Stanley 10-38, Corey Sturza 8-31, Noah Iberlin 5-30, Max Lube 2-6, Phillip McCallister 2-6.
Receiving: Seth Kite 2-47-1TD, Christian Mayer 3-73-2TD, Colter Carzoli 1-16, Richard Stanley 2-11, Ryan Kobielusz 2-30.