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BIG HORN — The Rams overcame some late-summer heat, a few turnovers and penalties on the way to a comfortable win Friday in Big Horn.
Starting the year with a familiar promise, Big Horn (1-0) defeated Greybull 55-25.
Senior quarterback and driving force Connor McCafferty got things started, using his arm and legs to build a quick 14-0 lead, but then there was some late help from a new face — his little brother the running back. Nolan McCafferty, a freshman, eclipsed 100 yards on the ground as he helped the Rams put the game away in the second half.
In the end, Rams head coach Michael McGuire praised his offensive line for carrying them to the victory.
“Early in the game we were able to get a couple of big plays, and I really felt from the start that our o-line controlled the football game,” McGuire said. “They did a great job for us all day long. We were able to run the ball very well today, and any time you can do that you’ve got a great chance to win.”
The Buffalos final gasp Friday came out right of the lockeroom after halftime when they drove down the field, finishing with a touchdown pass from Calder Forcella to Kason Clutter. The score cut the Rams lead to 41-25, but that was the last time the Buffalos would find the end zone.
Senior running back Colter Carzoli paced the Rams until late in the third quarter. He finished with 158 yards on the ground, but the 90-plus degree heat sidelined McCafferty and Carzoli.
Each had done enough by that point, and thanks to some stingy defense, the Rams were able to hang on for the win. Mason Lube and Christian Mayer each had second half interceptions that halted Greybull drives, while Nolan McCafferty used his 22 second-half carries well, finishing with 154 yards rushing and a score in his debut for Big Horn.
Offensively, the Rams ran their spread offense as they’ve done many times under McGuire. The ariel attack complemented the power running as Big Horn didn’t punt Friday. Penalties were a problem early, but 11 in the game for 90 yards, 10 came in the first half. In the second half it was the heat and not the mistakes that caused problems.
“You never expect to cramp up but you always know it’s a possibility, and we really felt Nolan ran the ball really well today,” McGuire said. “Colter ran it really well when he was in there, it didn’t seem to matter who we threw back there, they ran well. Our o-line did a great job. They had some big holes for us to run through.”
Big Horn surpassed 400 yards rushing, nearly hitting 600 total yards as they finished with 593 Friday. Defensively, they held up well against a hard-to-defend Greybull offense that featured a dual threat in Forcella.
Two of the Buffalos scoring drives came off muffed Rams punts in the first half.
“We did some good things, we’ve got some things to get cleaned up,” McGuire said of his defense. “They’re good offensively, they scored 50 points last weekend, and their quarterback is tough. We had a few breakdowns here and there, but we’re going to get better. We’re pretty young on defense. We’ll continue to improve.”
Plenty of players stood out for Big Horn in what was a team win at the end of the day. In the first quarter, McCafferty threw two 30-yard scores and ran for another. On the first drive he accounted for all 74 yards on the ground for the Rams, putting them into the end zone on just two carries a 53 yarder and a 21 yarder.
“I feel like we’re progressing, we’ve got to continue to get better every week,” McGuire said. “Defensivlely we’ll get some stuff cleaned up. Like I said that’s a tough football team, they’re good offensively.”
For Greybull, two muffed punts kept the score close as they capitalized on the first, cutting the deficit to 14-7. But McCafferty would hit Deven Ibach in the end zone to re-extend the Rams lead into the half.
Another candidate for player of the game was junior wideout Christian Mayer who returned in form. His blazing speed on the outside got him two first-half scores — the second featured a particularly attractive catch as he made a late adjustment on the ball over a cornerback as he walked into the end zone in the first quarter.
Big Horn travels to Newcastle next week.
Passing Connor McCafferty 20-36, 141 yards, 3 TDs
Max Lube 3-4, 1 INT 33 yards
Rushing Colter Carzoli 26 att, 158 yards; C. McCafferty 8-113-1 TD; Nolan McCafferty 24-154-1 TD; M. Lube 2-,-6
Receiving: Christian Mayer 6-116-2TDs; Deven Ibach 2-51-1TD; N. McCafferty 1-7
Passing: C. Forcella 20-36-279-1TD-2INT
Passing: Paul Stewart 9-85-2TDs; Calder Forcella 18-39; Fabian Davila 1-2
Receving: F. Davila 3-55 yards; Wyatt Nelson 5-82; Kyler Flock 3-37; Kason Clutter 8-85- 1TD; P. Stewart 1-20.
Team Totals Greybull/Big Horn
First downs: 19/28
Rushes-Yards 60-419/ 28-126
Yards per carry 7.0/4.5
Passing yards 174/279
Total plays 73/64
Total offense 593/405
Return yards 59-10
Total turnovers 4-2
Stats by John Pine
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