Wrangler defense toughens in second half of Homecoming game

Robert Galbreath photos

PINEDALE – Regardless of several impressive offensive runs and defensive punches, the Wranglers found themselves outgunned by the Cokeville Panthers during the Homecoming match on Friday, Sept. 24.

The Cokeville offense established a 30-0 lead by halftime that proved too challenging to overcome. The Panthers scored again early in the third quarter for the win, 36-0.

True to form, the Wranglers on the field managed to stand back up after each hit, demonstrating their grit to fight to the end.

The Wrangler offense chewed up significant yards, though fell short of landing in the end zone.

“We need to focus on finishing drives,” said head coach Clay Cundall. “We had some good looks on the field that we were unable to take advantage of, which resulted in stalling drives. If we want to improve, we need better execution from all positions.”

Junior Ethan Jensen made a sack during Cokeville’s first drive, and tackles by sophomore Cordelle Lane and juniors Luke Gray and Holden Saxton kept the Panther offensive on its feet.

Cokeville eventually slipped through to score its first touchdown.

Sophomore Dustin Larsen caught the toss from senior quarterback Konner Ziegler on Pinedale’s second drive in the first quarter. Larsen tucked the ball and ran to the Panthers’ 32-yard line for a first down.

The Wrangler defense shut down Cokeville’s second drive in the first quarter. Junior Tucker Watson pushed the Panthers’ carrier out of bounds. Larsen and Ethan Jensen pulled off a sack before Watson led a wall of Wranglers to take Cokeville down behind the line of scrimmage.

Cokeville scored a touchdown at the end of the first quarter. The Wranglers battled to push forward from a difficult spot on their 1-yard line and Cokeville eventually scored a safety.

The Panthers kept the pressure on, tallying two more touchdowns before halftime.

Cokeville came up short on its final run of the first half due to a relentless Wrangler defense, including tackles by sophomore Bodie Jensen and senior Tim Hosler.

Cokeville opened the third quarter with its sixth touchdown before the Wranglers found their feet.

Pinedale chewed up yards on its second drive in the third quarter. Ethan Jensen returned the ball the Wrangler 47-yard line. Ziegler completed a pass to Larsen. Ziegler held the ball on the next play and ran up the right side into Cokeville territory for a first down. Ziegler swept up the left side to the 30-yard line and another first down. Ziegler faked a punt and ran the ball, closing in on the end zone before Cokeville’s defense ended the drive.

The Wrangler defense hammered away at Cokeville as the match moved into the fourth quarter. Ethan Jensen took down a Panther twice as the third quarter ended. Gray broke up a pass on Cokeville’s first play in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Austin Green recovered a Panther fumble.

Ethan Jensen made a nice run past midfield for a first down on Pinedale’s first drive in the fourth quarter.

Tackles by Green, freshman Edwin Vega, Hosler and Bodie Jensen stalled the Panther offensive in their succeeding drive. Senior Bryton Nelson brought down the quarterback for a loss in yards.

Pinedale came close to the end zone on its final drive. Gray stepped in to play quarterback. Starting from the Wranglers’ 28-yard line, Bodie Jensen plowed his way up to the 38-yard line for a first down.

Larsen ran the ball down the middle for a 9-yard gain. Ethen Jensen invaded Panther territory on the next play, picking up enough yards for a first down. Gray completed a pass to Saxton for another first down as the clock ticked down.