Sep 2, 2012 - By Randy Tucker, Staff WriterA tight game between the home-standing Wind River Cougars and the visiting Class 2-A Kemmerer Rangers came down to the final minute Friday at Pavillion.
Trailing 12-6 the Cougars penetrated the Ranger 20. Without timeouts, they were forced to go to the air. The drive ended, giving the Rangers the close win in the inter-class contest.
"It's a game we would have liked to win," Wind River head coach Cullen Noffsinger said. "Defensively we played extremely well."
The game featured two teams that like to run the ball inside behind a double-wing attack. Kemmerer pounded away between the tackles most of the evening, with Wind River varying the offense a bit more on the perimeter.
The game featured the return of senior running back and linebacker Ward Gordon, who had missed time with an injury.
"Having Ward not practice for a week and a half was a factor," Noffsinger said.
Wind River scored first on a 30-yard interception return by senior defensive back Roger Wagon. The Rangers tied the score just before the half on a run.
Wind River was close to turning short gains into big plays several times throughout the game, but each time a single missed assignment changed the play from a potential game breaker into a short gain or a loss.
A lack of practice time is another negative factor for the Cougars. With a modified four-day schedule Wind River athletes don't get the same advantages as players at other schools.
"With us getting out of school so late and the buses running by 5:50 pm every night, we are easily a week behind every other team in the state by the opening game," Noffsinger said.
Wind River's defense was stellar throughout the game. "We played lights-out defense in the first half," Noffsinger said.
Kemmerer took the lead on a 40-yard scoring pass in the third, but Wind River limited the larger Rangers to three-and-out on most possessions.
"Most of their plays went for negative yardage," Noffsinger said.
Noffsinger singled out some outstanding individual efforts by the Cougars.
"Tanner Stover and Kaden Koenig played well," Noffsinger said. "Charles Oldman played well on both sides of the ball, and our offensive line had a lot of push all night.
"We had some mental mistakes and we'll work on those," Noffsinger said."Physically we beat them up, but our execution needs some work. That falls on the coach."
Wind River opens conference play this Thursday against longtime Fremont County rival Shoshoni on the road at 7:30 p.m.