BIG HORN — A football field measures 100 yards in length, but the Big Horn High School team only needed about half of it Friday night in the first half.
Due to excellent defense and special teams play, the Rams ran a mere three plays in their own territory against Wind River. Conversely, the Cougars ran one play on the Big Horn side of the field in the first 24 minutes.
That disparity led to a lopsided score, as Big Horn led 61-0 at halftime and ultimately won 67-8 in its quarterfinal playoff matchup. The Rams improved to 9-0 on the season.
“We just wanted to get the ball rolling,” head coach Kirk McLaughlin said. “We’re in the playoffs now. We get one chance at this and we don’t want to leave anything to doubt. We want to get up and get control of the game as soon as we can.”
The Rams were a buzzsaw on both sides of the field. Other than a turnover on downs in the first quarter and two missed extra points, they performed flawlessly in the first two quarters.
Big Horn scored at will — at one point, the Rams put up touchdowns on three consecutive offensive plays — and forced seven turnovers in the first half, totaling nine for the game.
Lineman Jaxon Parker recovered two fumbles and had his first career interception, Kade VanDyken tallied two interceptions and Will Pelissier scored on a pick-six three minutes into the game to put Big Horn ahead 13-0.
Lineman Seth Mullinax and the Rams dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, clearing lanes on offense and repeatedly stuffing the Cougars rushing attack.
“With this big senior class, we all knew it could be our last game, so a lot of us really brought the juice,” Mullinax said. “We put it all out there tonight and we’re going to do it for two more games.”
Quarterback Quinn McCafferty had four completions — all of them touchdowns — and threw for 100 yards in limited action. Three of those scores went to VanDyken, while the other went Kade Eisele’s way on a perfectly-executed screen.
Eisele, the Rams’ primary running back, began the game at quarterback, a different starting look and something that might continue next week. It got the Big Horn offense moving at a fast pace and immediately put the Cougars on their heels.
“[Eisele] is doing a great job because it’s nice just to get a direct snap,” Parker said. “It’s something for us to just do it quickly. Go out and line back up and do it again.”
Senior Jared Juergens scored from 2 yards out in the second quarter, the first touchdown of his career.
“We love the kid to death,” McLaughlin said. “We’re so happy and the team’s excited that J.J. got a touchdown.”
The Big Horn junior varsity crew saw plenty of action again, coming in during the second quarter. The backups held up well for the most part, only allowing a late touchdown and putting points on the board when Ayden Phillips scored on a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The Rams will host a familiar foe in Pine Bluffs next week with a berth in the state championship on the line.
McLaughlin said Big Horn’s 42-7 victory against the Hornets earlier this year doesn’t matter going forward.
“I don’t care what happened the first time,” McLaughlin said. “This game means a lot and we get one chance at it. We’ve gotta come ready to play.”
The Rams host Pine Bluffs next Friday at 5 p.m. in the playoff semifinals.
Wind River…..0 0 0 8 — 8
Big Horn…41 20 0 6 — 67