BIG HORN — Four plays, 78 yards, touchdown.
Six plays, 64 yards, touchdown.
Four plays, 76 yards, touchdown.
Two plays, 66 yards, touchdown.
Five plays, 65 yards, touchdown.
Two plays, 3 yards, touchdown.
Three plays, 44 yards, touchdown.
The Big Horn High School football team scored on its first seven drives and had an overwhelming two-way performance at home to defeat Lusk 49-12 Friday night. The win secured the 1A East conference for the Rams, who improved to 5-0 in league play and 7-0 on the season.
Most of Big Horn’s starters sat the entire second half, when Lusk scored two late touchdowns.
In the first half, though, the offense was unstoppable and the defense contained the Tigers’ rushing game. The Tigers never got the ball inside the red zone in the first half and Big Horn also recovered two fumbles, one of which occurred inside the Lusk 5-yard line.
The Rams’ starters amassed nearly 400 yards of offense and faced only two third downs, both of which they converted. One of them was a 42-yard touchdown pass from Quinn McCafferty to Carson Bates in the first quarter. Bates lined up in the backfield, ran a wheel route and was uncovered down the sidelines, converting the easy catch and run for the score.
The touchdown was Bates’ second of the game and put Big Horn up 21-0. He also started things for the Rams with a 63-yard touchdown run one minute into the game. Bates took a pitch outside, cut back through a huge hole created by the offensive line and sprinted past the secondary into the endzone.
“The line made it easy for me,” Bates said. “They always do.”
The Rams were equally as potent on the ground as they were through the air. Big Horn ran for more than 200 yards in the first half and McCaffery went 7-for-9 with 177 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for another score, sneaking in from 2 yards out in the first quarter.
Bates and Kade Eisele both had one rushing and one receiving touchdown. Will Pelissier also hauled in a 57-yard touchdown in the second quarter and Kyler Ostler made an acrobatic catch in the endzone for an 8-yard score. Ostler jumped over his defender, tipped the ball in the air with one hand and caught the ball with two hands as he was falling to the ground.
Bates said it felt like the best half of football the offense has played all season.
“The offensive line was making great blocks and we just all had a lot of energy,” Bates said.
Several players missed practice early in the week due to illness or injury, so the team gathered Thursday morning to re-focus on their goals for the season. It seemed to work, as head coach Kirk McLaughlin said the Rams had an excellent practice that afternoon and carried it over to the field Friday night, where Big Horn clicked on all cylinders.
“We kind of maybe lost track a little bit of what our goals were, what the purpose of the season was,” McLaughlin said. “Everything that we wanted to accomplish was out there but we kind of lost a little focus. I thought the kids refocused and we ended the week on fire.”
Lineman Jaxon Parker said the meeting Thursday morning reinvigorated the team and Friday served as a reminder of what a focused Big Horn team can do.
“I think we got a little cocky,” Parker said. “It was really good for the team and coaches to kind of come back together and play how we know we can play.”
Parker had a sack on fourth down late in the second quarter Friday night and was a key part of the defensive line that held the Tigers to only 68 rushing yards in the first 24 minutes.
The only negative occurred when lineman Ryan Johnson took a hit to the knee in the second quarter and stood in sweats during the second half. McLaughlin said Johnson’s injury status was unknown after the game and that he will have it examined Monday.
For the Rams’ postseason opponents, the road to Laramie will run through Big Horn. If Friday night is any indication, the Rams will have a clear path to the state championship.
The Rams host Southeast in the regular-season finale next Friday.
Lusk……….0 0 0 12 — 12
Big Horn…21 28 0 0 — 49