Wranglers tough it out against Cokeville

Sandy Wanfalt photo Junior Doug Dexter, center, blocks a Cokeville defender to make room for senior Ethan Jensen, No. 7, to advance down the field following a handoff from senior quarterback Luke Gray, far right.

COKEVILLE – The Pinedale Wrangler football team trailed the Cokeville Panthers, 42-0, as the third quarter ended during the conference game on Friday, Sept. 16.

The Wranglers faced two choices – throw in the towel or keep going. In true Wrangler form, Pinedale chose the second option.

As the fourth quarter opened, a tenacious Wrangler defense forced Cokeville to punt on its first possession, including tackles led by juniors Bodie Jensen, Doug Dexter, Jake Hammer and Dustin Larsen.

Pinedale returned the kick at its own 39-yard line. Senior Ethan Jensen took the handoff from senior quarterback Luke Gray. Jensen cut up the right side of the field, carrying the ball deep into Panther territory for a first down.

Gray handed the ball to freshman Cale Dauwen. Dauwen broke tackle and raced up the center into the end zone. A kick by sophomore Edwin Vega added a point after touchdown.

The final score remained in Cokeville’s favor, 42-7. The Wranglers’ fourth-quarter touchdown testified to Pinedale’s stamina and desire to maintain the fight against a tough opponent until the Wranglers scored.

“The Wranglers showed a lot of second-half heart and effort to continue building on the season and program, with the offense converting on a second-half drive and finishing with Dauwen finding the end zone,” said Head Coach David Thrash. “Defense forced a couple three-and-outs and an interception by Gray.”

Cokeville dominated most of the first quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns. The Wranglers found their footing on their third first-quarter drive, with Gray scrambling for a first down.

Cokeville reached the end zone early in the second quarter. Gray shut down the Panthers’ second drive in the quarter with an interception.

A tight Wrangler defense stalled Cokeville on the Panthers’ next drive. Ethan Jensen pulled off a pair of tackles with Larsen tripping up Cokeville’s runner. Hammer took down the Panthers’ pass receiver. Larsen pulled out another tackle and Gray led a wall of Wranglers.

Cokeville failed in its attempt at a field goal.

The Panthers scored again before halftime ended, though Larsen swept in and shut down Cokeville’s attempt to convert.

The Pinedale defense struck back as the second half began. Tackles led by senior Holden Saxton, Bodie Jensen and junior Owen McMillen wore down the Panthers. A tackle by Hammer brought the Panthers up short of reaching the end zone, forcing a turnover on downs.

Ethan Jensen churned up enough yards during Pinedale’s subsequent drive for a first down. Although the Wranglers were unable to complete the drive, Vega unleashed a deep punt for a touchback.

In the fourth quarter, the Wrangler defense closed ranks and shut down Cokeville’s first drive.

The Wranglers took possession, culminating in Dauwen’s run into the end zone for Pinedale’s first touchdown. Vega’s kick put up another point for the Wranglers.

Larsen recovered a fumble on Cokeville’s next drive. McMillen, Dexter, Hammer and junior Cordelle Lane chiseled away at the Panther offense as the game came to an end.

The Wranglers travel to play Lovell on Friday, Sept. 24.

“Heading into a road game with Lovell, the squad is ready to clean up blocking and continue the process of gaining experience and skill while capitalizing on that no quit attitude,” said Coach Thrash.