First-quarter fireworks result in Puncher victory

Robert Galbreath photo Senior Reuben Stoutenburg maneuvers through Lusk’s line of defense to advance the ball against the Tigers on Aug. 31.

PINEDALE – A powerful, coordinated Big Piney High School Puncher football offense and a solid defense during the first half of the Aug. 31 game against Lusk sealed Big Piney’s victory, 33-20.

The Punchers dominated the scoreboard at halftime, 27-6. Lusk found its footing in the fourth quarter and attempted to close the gap with a pair of touchdowns, although the effort was too little, too late.

“The final score of 33-20 wasn’t really a true representation of how well we played,” said Head Coach Jeromy Moffat. “We started to cycle in our junior varsity kids early in the third quarter. Although Lusk gave us a few scores, it was a good learning experience for (junior varsity).”

Coach Moffat also expressed pride in his varsity squad.

“I was very pleased with how they played on offense and defense,” he said. “Offensively, we put up a lot of points in the first half and had a balanced attack of running and passing. I think it was one of the best blocking performances with our big guys up front. Defensively, Lusk threw the ball more than we had prepared for. We will practice more for the pass this week and patch up those holes on defense.”

Striking early in the first quarter, Big Piney launched a sustained drive into the end zone on its first possession.

Senior Reuben Stoutenburg churned up the yards for a first down. Senior quarterback Champ Snively completed a pass to senior Karsyn Gurr for another first down. Junior Caden Clifford advanced the ball 10 yards. Snively delivered a perfect pass to senior Jerrett Fear, placing the Punchers on Lusk’s 2-yard line.

Stoutenburg took the handoff from Snively and bulldozed up the center for Big Piney’s first touchdown. A good kick by senior Roger Young brought the tally to 7-0 in the Punchers’ favor.

A determined Big Piney defense shut down Lusk’s first two drives of the game, including tackles by Gurr, Young, Stoutenburg and a sack behind the line of scrimmage by senior Preston Bennett.

Lusk took possession as the second quarter opened and managed to complete its drive into the end zone for a touchdown.

Big Piney replied with a touchdown of its own on the subsequent drive. Breaking tackle, Gurr returned the ball to the Punchers’ 45-yard line. Clifford and Stoutenburg relentlessly moved the ball forward.

Clifford charged up the middle of the field and into the red zone to post 6 points for the Punchers. Young delivered the extra point and the Punchers widened their lead, 14-6.

Big Piney reached the end zone again on its next drive. Stoutenburg and Clifford ate up the yards as they struck deep into Tiger territory.

Stoutenburg ran the ball into the end zone to score Puncher touchdown no. 3. A good kick by Young tipped the scoreboard further in Big Piney’s favor, 21-6.

Showing no mercy, the Big Piney offense drove the ball into the red zone on its final possession of the first half. Snively completed two passes to Gurr. On the second pass, Gurr took the ball and sprinted up the field for Puncher touchdown no. 4.

A solid Big Piney defense stopped Lusk in its tracks on the Tigers’ final drive of the first half. Senior Dylon Woodward batted down a pass by Lusk. Junior Ben Ferguson stopped Lusk’s runner with a tackle. Senior Zack Murphy struck with two sacks, the second one resulting in a 5-yard loss.

The Punchers controlled the halftime scoreboard, 27-6.

Lusk took possession as the third quarter began. A series of tackles by Ferguson and another sack from Murphy halted the Tigers’ advance.

On Lusk’s subsequent drive, Fear intercepted the Tigers’ pass, putting Big Piney in a position to reach the end zone a fifth time.

Snively delivered passes to both Fear and Gurr. Stoutenburg grabbed the handoff and swept up the left side of the field into the red zone, bringing the tally to 33-6 in Big Piney’s favor.

The Punchers travel to Cowley for their conference opener against Wind River High School on Saturday, Sept. 9.