PHS closes out season with touchdown

Robert Galbreath photo Senior Jake Hammer receives a high five from assistant coach Adam Parks after shutting down Rich County’s offense with a pair of tackles in the third quarter on Oct. 20.

PINEDALE – With 1 minute, 47 seconds remaining on the clock in regulation between the Pinedale High School Wrangler football team and the Rich County Rebels on Friday, Oct. 20, the Wranglers took possession.

The scoreboard favored Rich County, 20-0, and the Wranglers faced a decision late in the final home game of the season – call it quits or keep fighting.

Senior quarterback Bodie Jensen faked a handoff and pitched the ball to sophomore Cale Dauwen. Dauwen swept up the gridiron, crossing midfield for a first down.

Senior Dustin Larsen took the handoff and reached the 25-yard line in Rich County territory for another first down.

Jensen kept the ball on the next play. With Rich County defenders closing in, Jensen broke tackle and managed to send the ball spiraling to sophomore Kolbyn Jaquez waiting in the end zone. Jaquez completed the pass for a Wrangler touchdown.

Senior Brody Hamby kicked a perfect field goal.

Rich County posted the win, 20-7, but the Wranglers’ touchdown against a tough Rebel defense reflected Pinedale’s grit and desire to maintain the battle as the 2023 season counted down.

“The Wranglers played well with adversity that they faced with changing positions and penalties on Friday,” said Head Coach David Thrash. “Defensively, the Wranglers stood tall and made quality stops when it mattered. The offense found its footing in the second half and was able to sustain drives, ultimately leading to a touchdown.”

The Wranglers demonstrated marked improvement throughout the 2023 season, beginning with a 6-0 victory against Rawlins on Sept. 1. Pinedale annihilated Kemmerer at home, 36-6, on Oct. 6.

“Overall, the Wranglers continued to make great growth this year in the execution of assignments and sustaining drives that led to finding the end zone,” said Coach Thrash.

The Wranglers recognized their seniors on Oct. 20.

“The senior class was a pivotal piece of the team’s growth and this is always a bittersweet moment,” Thrash added. “This is an awesome group of young men and they are going to be successful as they work to begin the next chapter of their lives.”

Rich County managed to score on its opening drive before the Wrangler defense closed ranks on the Rebels’ ensuing drive.

Sophomore Landon Fornstrom took down Rich County’s returner. Jensen led a pack of Wranglers in a tackle and ran the Rebels’ running back out of bounds.

Defensive pressure by Fornstrom, Jensen, Larsen and senior Jake Hammer resulted in incomplete passes.

Pinedale took possession and sophomore quarterback Ian Rigo completed a pass to Fornstrom for a first down.

Pinedale commenced the second quarter in possession. Dauwen and Jensen both churned up the yards for a first down.

Pinedale shut down Rich County’s first drive of the second quarter, including tackles by Larsen, Dauwen and senior Dodge Normington. Hammer and sophomore Quincy Mika broke up a pass.

The Wrangler defense stood firm on Rich County’s subsequent drive with tackles by Larsen, Hammer and senior Cordelle Lane. Sophomore Wylee Willson batted down a pass.

Hammer and sophomore Boeh Gamble prevented Rich County from reaching the end zone as the first half came to a close.

Senior Brody Hamby opened the third quarter with a deep kick into the end zone for a touchback. Hammer took down the Rebels’ running back for no gain and Willson broke up another pass.

Rich County lost possession on its second drive of the third quarter following a sack in the backfield by Fornstrom and junior Branson Simmons.

Back-to-back tackles by Hammer halted Rich County’s last drive of the third quarter.

Rich County scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter before Pinedale responded with its own touchdown as the game came to an end.