Sep 16, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterRiverton is 1-2 heading into this Friday's conference opener vs. Rawlins at Wolverine Field.
CODY -- It may be too early in the season to say the Riverton Wolverines made a statement Friday night, but on the road in Cody, the Wolverines played well in all phases of the game, added a bit of luck, and ran away from the Broncs 26-7. Coupled with Class 3-A East perennial power teams Douglas and Buffalo each losing big -- Douglas 28-0 at Star Valley and Buffalo 34-14 at home against Green River -- the light of the Class 3-A East conference may be ready to shine on the Wolverines.
It was a much-needed first win of the regular season for the Wolverines (1-2) and adds momentum for this Friday's conference-opening home game against the Rawlins Outlaws, who are in the middle of a 34-game losing streak.
Under perfect skies in Park County, the Wolverines took the opening kickoff. Sophomore Brandon Fullerton gave Riverton good field position at its own 37 on the return, and it took Xavier Webb just one 19-yard rush to get the Wolverines into Bronc territory.
Six plays later, with Riverton not having faced even a single third down on the drive, Webb carried it in from four yards out to give the Wolverines a quick 6-0 lead after Dietrek Becker's point-after-touchdown kick was blocked.
But Cody, playing in front of a large crowd at its Homecoming game, fought back and returned to a blitzing style defense to keep the game close early.
As the second quarter started, Cody momentarily grabbed the lead when junior quarterback Bryce Neary found a seam in the middle of Riverton's defense and completed a 35-yard catch and run for a touchdown. With the PAT, Cody was up 7-6.
Riverton's next possession started in great field position when Fullerton, on a reverse, took the kickoff to midfield.
But the Wolverines didn't take advantage, and Webb's punt just rolled into the end zone to give Cody possession and a chance to widen the lead.
Cody managed to take advantage of a Wolverine pass interference call, but on third and 14 RHS defensive end Jeremy Vincent, who recorded two big sacks during the game, pressured Neary and forced Cody to punt.
Carter Myers sailed his 59-yard punt well over the Wolverine returners to give Riverton the ball at its own own 10.
The Wolverines then mounted a 13-play drive, effectively mixing the pass and run to march down the field. RHS converted twice on fourth downs, once on a Webb-to-Kade Salisbury pass that gave Riverton first and goal at Cody's 7-yard line. The second conversion, when it was four and goal from the 1, saw Webb scramble and find tight end Jordan Belville for Riverton's second score. Riverton's try for two failed, but the Wolverines took momentum and a 12-7 lead into the locker room.
"(Offensive coordinator Beau) Sheets did a great job calling the game. We ran the ball, we threw the ball. What is nice is that we're not just throwing to one receiver and not just handing off to one back. We are spreading it out," Riverton head coach Jeremy McCormick said.
Cody, which had trouble in the first half with penalties, opened the third quarter with a good drive running right at the middle of Riverton's defense. With a first and 10 at Riverton's 26, a Bronc personal foul stalled the drive. T.J. Galey broke up Neary's pass on fourth and 19, and Riverton took over on downs.
The Wolverines continued their good mix of offensive threats, but, maybe for the first time this season, gladly took a bit of luck to finish off their nine-play drive.
Facing third and goal at Cody's 4, left-handed Webb rolled out to his left, and fired to the end zone. The ball was deflected right into the hands of 205-pound Wolverine lineman J.P. Baxter.
The junior grabbed the ball, looked like a running back, and rumbled into the end zone for a rare lineman touchdown.
"It like bounced off the guy in front of me's head, and I saw it floating in the air and I was like, 'Hey, I think I can grab that. I just reached out and grabbed it and dove for the touchdown," Baxter said.
The momentum of the game had clearly shifted, and Riverton's defense began to blitz more on its own to shut down any threat of a Cody comeback.
"The thing I told the guys was the biggest thing about tonight was making adjustments. Part of that was the blitzes. Once they came out in the third quarter and started rolling at us, then we had to get some movement. So the blitzes came," defensive coordinator Randy Weber said.
Dylan Lewis led all Wolverine defenders with 20 defensive points, and senior defensive linebacker Galey, who did not play a week ago because of injuries, tallied 14. Also playing big late in the game was senior lineman Dawson Steeds, who recorded three solo tackles and had four assists, and Vincent, who pressured quarterback Neary from his defensive end slot.
"We have been searching for linebackers. We have a lot of inexperience. When he (Lewis) relies on his speed, it is pretty difficult to catch him in there," Weber said.
Webb had a stellar game passing, the senior was 19-23 for 204 yards and no picks. And, best of all, the quarterback distributed the ball to five different targets including Salisbury, Belville, Logan Hartbank, Ian McMenamy and Fullerton.
The Wolverines finished the game to the echo's of the Riverton moms yelling, "Move those chains" at every first down as Riverton churned out two final drives, primarily on the ground, chewing up the clock.
The final score of the night was an 11-yard Galey run off left tackle that sealed the win.
"Our line did a good job of picking up their blitzes. The kids did a great job and really responded. It was nice to see all three phases of the game come together. The coaching staff did a good job of putting the game plan together, and the kids did a good job executing," McCormick said.
Riverton 6 6 7 7 -- 26
Cody 0 7 0 0 -- 7
9:48 -- Riverton, Xavier Webb, 2-yard run, PAT kick blocked, 6-0
10:53 -- Cody, Noah Rivera, 35-yard pass from Bryce Neary, Carter Myers PAT, 6-7
0:18 -- Riverton, Dylan Lewis, 1-yard run, PAT try failed, 12-7
4:35 - Riverton, JP Baxter, 4-yard pass from Xavier Webb, Dietrik Becker kick, 19-7
2:43 -- Riverton, TJ Galey, 11-yard run, Dietrik Becker kick, 26-7
Riverton (33-162) -- Xavier Webb 8-61, TJ Galey 10-42, Dylan Lewis 10-30, Tristan White 4-29, Logan Hartbank 1-0.
Riverton -- Xavier Webb 19-23-0 205
Riverton (19-205) -- Kade Salisbury 8-103, Logan Hartbank 3-34, Ian McMenamy 3-26, Jordan Belville 3-23, Brandon Fullerton 1-15, JP Baxter 1-4. Photo by Bob Kennedy/Cody Enterprise
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