Sep 7, 2012 - By Randy Tucker, Sports WriterSHOSHONI -- Under rare rainy skies, the Shoshoni Wranglers edged the Wind River Cougars 13-9 in one of the better games played between the two rivals in their 49-game series. Shoshoni moves to 2-0 with the win while the Cougars drop to 0-2. The Wranglers are 1-0 in Western Conference play.
Slick conditions favored Wind River's run-oriented offense in the opening half. Shoshoni's quarterbacks had trouble hanging on to the ball, and the opening play of the game set the tone for much of the contest for the Wranglers.
With the ball at Shoshoni's 30-yard line, Tyler Clemetson turned to pitch the ball, and it slipped sideways out of his hand, bounced once and was recovered by Wind River.
Zac Noffsinger gained 12 yards on a first down followed by eight more by Ward Gordon on the next play, and the Cougars were inside the Shoshoni 10-yard line. Gordon took the ball again setting up a first and goal at the four.
The Wrangler defense stiffened at that point, and Wind River lost yardage on the next three plays before Gordon kicked a 26-yard field goal, putting the visitors on the scoreboard.
Shoshoni threw the ball more often in its season opener, but on the rainy night in eastern Fremont County, head coach Rick Lindblad elected to put it on the ground.
Junior running back Jayden Haslam had the best outing of his career, picking up 197 yards on 17 carries to pace Shoshoni. Haslam's biggest run of the game came behind a crushing block from Micah Mills for 31 yards late in the second.
Haslam gained most of the yardage on the ensuing drive with Josh Thoren and Mason Steffen each catching balls from Clemetson. Facing a fourth and four on the Cougar 22, the Wranglers set up for a Thoren field goal, but Wind River jumped offsides on the hard count, and two plays later, Haslam crashed in from the two. Thoren's kick split the uprights, and Shoshoni led 7-3.
The remainder of the half featured three-and-outs for the Cougars on most drives as Shoshoni's defense controlled the line of scrimmage. Offensively, the Wranglers were their own worst enemy, turning the ball over three more times in the half.
Late in the second, the final fumble of the period set up Wind River's only touchdown. As Clemetson set to pitch the ball, Wind River's Cole Bossert broke through the blocking and picked the errant toss off the grass. Bossert raced 66 yards on the fumble return, and the stunned Wranglers trailed 9-7 at the half.
Shoshoni moved the ball all over the field in the second half, but each drive ended with the Wranglers either penalized or on more turnovers.
J.J. Crichton, Dillon Geis, Daniel Sullivan and Walker Reynolds controlled the line of scrimmage for the remainder of the half.
The third period featured the staccato sound of pads popping on both sides of the ball as the longtime rivalry grew heated.
Wind River stayed in its single-wing offense throughout the half, and the Wranglers swarmed over Noffsinger and Gordon on most possessions with Zac Lindstadt getting knocked down every time he handed the ball off or tried to throw.
The two squads mauled each other in the third, and Wind River tried to control the ball late in the game, holding their narrow two-point advantage.
Back to back losses on swarming sacks of Lindstadt, a pair of tackles by Casey LaGois, along with a solo stuff of Gordon by Sullivan and another sack by Thoren ended a short Wind River series and set up a punting situation. Ryan Weliever mishandled the snap and had to dive on the ball at the Cougar 38. Steffen picked up three on a short pass from Brace Pingetzer.
On the next play, Pingetzer threw the ball high in the air and Thoren outran the Cougar coverage on a 35-yard scoring play that put the Wranglers back on top 13-9 with 4:10 left in the game.
"Josh Thoren is like 7-Eleven; he's open 24 hours a day," Lindblad said.
Wind River's offense fell backward on the next three plays behind tackles by Reynolds, Geis and Mills. Lindstadt found Tyler Rupe picked for a final first down on a 12-yard reception.
Wind River's hopes ended when Reynolds broke through the Cougar line and knocked the ball out of Lindstadt's hand, picked up the spinning football and raced to the 12-yard line before Gordon drove him out of bounds.
Clemetson kneeled twice, and the Wranglers ran out the clock for the win.
Shoshoni hits the road Sept. 14 for a game in Burlington while Wind River hosts Wyoming Indian at Sept. 14 at Pavillion.
WIND RIVER 3 6 0 0 - 9
SHOSHONI 7 0 0 6 - 13
First Quarter -
WR - Ward Gordon 26 FG 9:04
SHO - Jayden Haslam 2-run (Josh Thoren kick) 4:14
WR - Cole Bossert 66-fumble return (kick failed) 1:07
SHO - Josh Thoren 35-pass from Brace Pingetzer (run failed) 4:10.
Rushing Offense: Wind River 28/77, Shoshoni - 25/213
Passing Offense: Wind River 3-11 39, Shoshoni 6-14-2 82
Total Offense: Wind River 116, Shoshoni 295
Individual Rushing: Wind River - Ward Gordon 10/54, Zac Noffsinger 8/29, Zac Lindstadt 5/-46, Tyler Rupe 4/31; Shoshoni - Jayden Haslam 17/197, Tyler Clemetson 7/12, Josh Oaks 1/4
Individual Passing: Wind River - Zac Lindstadt 3-9-0 26, Shoshoni - Tyler Clemetson 6-11-2 43, Brace Pingetzer 2-5-0 39
Individual Receiving: Wind River - Tyler Rupe 2/20, Roger Wagon 1/6; Shoshoni Josh Thoren 3/53, Mason Steffen 3/26, Lawry Lindblad 2/13.
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.