BIG HORN — Down goes Big Horn.
The Rams lost to Pine Bluffs 22-21 in a nail-biting overtime game Friday at Big Horn High School. After scoring a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal, Pine Bluffs standout quarterback Haize Fornstrom ran it again and won the game on a 2-point conversion, barely breaking the plane to give the Hornets the 1-point road victory. The loss dropped Big Horn to 2-1 on the season.
“We just got completely out-physicaled the entire football game,” Big Horn head coach Michael McGuire said. “All 11 guys on the field. They were more physical than we were the entire football game.”
The game started much better for the Rams. The first seven plays were runs by Kade Eisele, then Quinn McCafferty’s first pass of the game was a beautiful 38-yard touchdown pass to Will Pelissier, who beat his man down the middle of the field.
Pelissier again made his presence known a few plays later, intercepting a sideline pass on fourth down at the Rams 16-yard line. After a Big Horn punt, the Rams forced another turnover, this time recovering a Pine Bluffs fumble. The Rams were unable to take advantage, however, and settled for another punt.
The second touchdown of the game was all Kade Eisele. With about three minutes left in the third quarter, Big Horn faced third-and-9 at its own 46. McCafferty threw a short shovel pass to Eisele, who evaded a few defenders and broke several tackles near the sideline on his way to a 54-yard score.
Big Horn went into halftime up 14-0 but was also down an important player. Lineman Seth Mullinax suffered what appeared to be a concussion at the end of the first quarter and did not return to the game. Mullinax’s injury status was unknown after the game.
Missing its top lineman, Big Horn was thoroughly outplayed up front in the second half. After forcing another fumble on Pine Bluffs’ first drive, the Rams allowed two consecutive touchdown drives of 71 and 62 yards, almost all of which came on the ground. Pine Bluffs ended with a total of 243 yards rushing.
“A lot of the stuff that really hurt us was just the stuff right downhill at us, and that’s a physical thing,” McGuire said.
Fornstrom made several huge plays on the Hornets’ first scoring drive, converting a 5-yard run on fourth down to keep the drive going. He later had a 10-yard run on third down to put Pine Bluffs inside the 5. Fornstrom scored a 3-yard touchdown run two plays later to make it 14-7 with about two minutes left in the third quarter.
Six minutes later, Fornstrom was in the end zone again, this time on an 11-yard run to tie it at 14.
McGuire said the Hornets quarterback “made some plays,” but Big Horn also noted his team’s struggles to tackle as a benefit to Fornstrom.
The Big Horn offense, which had been potent the first two weeks, stalled after halftime. Out of four second-half drives, the Rams lost a fumble, then had three consecutive punts. For the game, Big Horn totaled only 234 yards of offense after averaging 583 yards during its first two games.
After an Eisele punt pinned Pine Bluffs inside its own 5 with about 30 seconds left, the Hornets had to run one more play in regulation. It nearly cost them the game. Fornstrom ran the ball and fumbled near the 10-yard line, but a Pine Bluffs lineman jumped on it, sending the contest to overtime.
Big Horn had the ball first in the extra stanza, beginning at Pine Bluffs’ 10-yard line. The first play was perfectly drawn up, as McCafferty hit Pelissier out of the backfield for a touchdown. Eisele’s extra point put the Rams up 7.
The Hornets’ went next. As it had done most of the night, Pine Bluffs ran the ball up the middle, gaining nine yards on the first three carries.
On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Fornstrom kept the ball and attempted a quarterback sneak to the left. Big Horn got great pressure, but Fornstrom’s second effort was enough to score the touchdown.
Pine Bluffs then put the game on the line and went for two. Fornstrom rolled to his right, made a slight cut back and dove in the air. When he landed, the Hornets were victorious.
McGuire said there was nothing positive to take away from the game.
“We’ve got to get back to work,” he said. “It just wasn’t good enough. Our preparation this week was subpar for what we expect here, and we talked about that and they knew that … We need to do the things that have made us successful and not take winning for granted.”
Big Horn takes on Lusk next Friday.
Big Horn……. 7 7 0 0 (7 OT) — 21
Pine Bluffs…. 0 0 7 7 (8 OT) — 22