SHERIDAN — The Big Horn Rams defeated the Wright Panthers 44-18 in their homecoming game Friday.
The Rams recovered from an early 12-point deficit in the first quarter to improve to 5-0 for the season.
Wright took an early lead recovering their own kick and scoring on a third-down run. Wright then scored a second touchdown on a five yard run. With both missed extra points, the Panthers led 12-0.
The Rams soon answered when the line gave junior Carson Bates room to take the first play of the drive all the way in to the end zone.
The next brief Wright possession ended with a short punt.
Senior Will Pelissier broke clean through the first tackler on first down, bringing the Rams to the Wright 35 yard line. Bates brought it to the five yard line and then scored on the next play. A second missed kick kept the score tied at 12.
On the kickoff, sophomore Jack Walker tackled the Wright runner downfield at their own 25-yard line. A long Wright run to midfield was stopped by Pelissier, but a late hit penalty advanced the Panthers another 15.
Short runs by Wright brought them to the 12-yard line, but a holding penalty put them back 10 to end the quarter.
At the start of the second, junior Ayden Phillips knocked down a Panthers pass in the end zone. Wright then missed a 41-yard field goal attempt to make it Big Horn ball again at the 20.
Pelissier and Bates ran for first downs and McCafferty was sacked for a loss of five. A screen pass to Pelissier and a run by Bates each earned first downs and brought the Rams to the 20, but another penalty put them back 5 yards.
McCafferty ran for a first down on the third down, and blocks from the line and a hard cut by Pelissier out him uncontested in the end zone on the next play for the first Rams lead of the night. A kick by freshman Cooper Garber brought the score to 19-12.
Big Horn then held the Panthers to just six yards on their next possession, forcing a punt.
Bates ran through a wide open hole and outside through the first tackler to the 45-yard line, and two big runs by Pelissier took the Rams to the Wright 28.
McCafferty threw a flip pass to Bates who cut back and ran to the end zone. After the kick from Garber, Rams led 26-12 and then held the Panthers to a gain of only two yards to end the half.
Despite a majority of the third quarter spent near the end zone, neither team made it in. Penalties by each side continued, and the Rams defense forced a touchback.
Runs by Pelissier and Bates and a short pass to Bates brought Big Horn to the six yard line. A personal foul on Wright put the Rams closer, and a false start on the Rams undid it. The Rams drive ended just short of the goal on a Bates run.
The Rams defense held the Panthers on the goal and forced a punt to the 40-yard line. Wright’s Chase Lewis intercepted a McCafferty pass, but a block to the back after the play tok back hal the distance to the goal.
The following Panthers possession was held to just four plays.
Carson Bates broke free for a 46-yard run to the end zone, but a block in the back brought them back 10 yards from the point of the foul.
After McCafferty was sacked for a loss of five yards, he threw long to Bates who ran it in to the end zone, giving the Rams a 33-12 lead after the kick from Garber.
The next Panthers possession ended when McCafferty intercepted a short-lived pass at the line of scrimmage, making it Big Horn ball again at the 45 yard line.
Pelissier ran the ball in on the first play, but another block in the back undid the gain. Another penalty by each team and a pitch and catch to senior Kyler Ostler put the Rams at 30. Bates ran wide down the sideline to the eight yard line, and a personal foul on the defense brought them to the four yard line, but an offensive penalty took the Rams back ten.
A flag each kept the rmas still at the four yard line until will pelissier ran for a touchdown for a 40-12 lead after the kick.
The kickoff by Garber bounced to the end zone, and the rams defense held the Panthers drive, which ended on a short rugby kick.
Bates and Pelissier ran for a first down each, and Pelissier ran to the end zone for a 47-12 lead with a minute of play left.
Wright’s Dax Yeradi ran free to the end zone after the game clock, bringing the final score to 47-18.
Big Horn head coach Kirk McLaughlin felt the team ran the ball well and praised the offensive line.
“You know we were able to run the ball really well,” he said. “When we finally got the ball and held on to the ball we were lights out running the ball, the o-line was amazing up front. They opened up a lot of great holes for the guys, and they hit some seems. Our running backs fought through tackles, I was really proud of them.”
Bates agreed the team started slow and struggled with unnecessary penalties, but agreed the line had made the offensive gains possible.
“Honestly, we just are beating ourselves with the penalties,” Bates said. “But we bounced back. The line was blocking great.”
For next week, McLaughlin hopes to prepare the team to play with greater discipline.
“I’m proud of our guys for handling some adversity early, but we can’t defeat ourselves sometimes and make those mistakes early in the game,” McLaughlin said
The now 3-0 and first-ranked Rams will head to Upton-Sundance next week to face the Patriots Friday Sept. 27.