Wranglers battle Thermopolis for Homecoming


PINEDALE – The Thermopolis Bobcats advanced across the field during their opening drive of the first quarter against the Pinedale Wranglers at the Homecoming game on Friday, Sept. 30.

The Bobcat offense lined up on the Wranglers’ 5-yard line. Thermopolis’ quarterback handed the ball off. Pinedale junior Jake Hammer burst into action, tackling the Bobcats’ runner at the line of scrimmage.

The Thermopolis offense returned to the 5-yard line after its huddle. Thermopolis’ quarterback took the ball, stepped back and sent it spiraling toward a player he thought was open.

Pinedale senior Colby Bailey swept into the gap, reached up and intercepted the pass.

Gripping the football, Bailey shifted into high gear and chewed up more than 80 yards before the Bobcats finally caught up.

The Wranglers ultimately fell to Thermopolis, 34-6. Pinedale’s gutsy first-quarter stand against the Bobcat offense reflected the team’s grit and ability to throw a punch. Throughout the game, the Wranglers exhibited a “no quit” attitude and continued to show signs of growth.

“It was a tough loss to the Bobcats on Friday,” said Head Coach David Thrash. “The boys played well and began the game with a huge screen pass interception by Bailey. The offense put together some great drives where Luke Gray was able to find senior Holden Saxton for a big pass conversion leading to (freshman) Cale Dauwen finding the end zone in the second quarter. The foundation blocks are continuing to be laid by the Wranglers as they improve each week in multiple areas.”

The Wranglers promptly shut down the Bobcats on Thermopolis’ opening possession in the first quarter. Senior Sawyer Siefkes tackled the Bobcats’ kick returner. Bailey led a pack of Wranglers in a tackle. Gray took down the Bobcats’ runner and senior Ethan Jensen made a tackle for no gain.

Hammer stopped the Bobcats at the line of scrimmage before Bailey intercepted a pass and raced 80-plus yards down the field.

Thermopolis scored on its second possession in the first quarter, although the Wrangler defense prevented the Bobcats from scoring points after touchdown.

Junior Owen McMillen returned the ball to Pinedale’s 26-yard line. Ethan Jensen steadily moved up the field for a first down. Dauwen gained several yards. Gray completed a pass to Saxton.

Taking possession, the Bobcat offense made it to the end zone to score on their first drive of the second quarter, despite tackles by sophomore Joey Bain, Ethan Jensen, junior Bodie Jensen and McMillen. The Pinedale offense shut down Thermopolis’ attempt to convert.

McMillen returned the ball to the Wranglers’ 38-yard line. Gray completed a pass to Saxton, moving the line of scrimmage past the 50-yard mark.

Junior Dustin Larsen churned up the middle for three yards. Dauwen bulldozed forward for a 14-yard gain and a first down. Dauwen carried the ball on the next play for another first down.

Gray handed the ball off to Dauwen a third time. Breaking tackle, Dauwen charged through an opening in the Bobcat defense to score a Wrangler touchdown.

Thermopolis responded with its third touchdown.

McMillen raced to the 36-yard line on the return. Ethan Jensen chewed up yards and Gray completed a pass to McMillen before the halftime buzzer sounded.

Thermopolis led, 20-6, as the teams headed for the locker rooms.

Thermopolis scored a touchdown early in the third quarter.

McMillen returned the ball to the 39-yard line. Gray scrambled for nine yards. Larsen plowed up the middle for a first down. Gray completed a pass to Ethan Jensen. Larsen carried the ball up the left for another first down.

The Wrangler defense shut down Thermopolis’ ensuing drive. Junior Bodie Jensen ran the Bobcats’ receiver out of bounds. Hammer led several tackles. Larsen took down a Bobcat for no gain. Junior Doug Dexter led a pack of Wranglers to force a turnover on downs.

During the Bobcats’ final possession in the third quarter, Bodie Jensen intercepted a pass.

The Wrangler defense made Thermopolis fight for each yard in the Bobcats’ first fourth-quarter drive. Larsen, Ethan Jensen, Bodie Jensen, Bailey, senior Axle Brekhus and Hammer each pulled off tackles. Larsen made a sack behind the line of scrimmage. Hammer also took down the quarterback for no gain.

Thermopolis eventually managed to push through the Wrangler defense and score a final touchdown.

The Wrangler defense hammered away at Thermopolis during the Bobcats’ final possession of the game. Saxton and Hammer led a tackle. A penalty moved Thermopolis back. Larsen made a sack in the backfield. Gray and Saxton took down the Bobcat’s receiver.

The Wranglers travel to play Kemmerer on Friday, Oct. 7. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

“The team will work to continue sharpening the edges this week to hit the road for another match-up against the Rangers,” said Coach Thrash.