Oct 13, 2012 - By Randy Tucker, Sports WriterSHOSHONI -- Shoshoni secured the third seed from the West 2-A conference in a 33-26 shootout over Saratoga on Friday night at home. The win lifts the Wranglers to 5-2 overall on the season and 4-2 in conference play.
The Wranglers await the winner of Friday's tilt between Goshen County rivals Lingle-Ft. Laramie and Southeast Goshen to determine where they will travel in the opening round of the playoffs the following week.
Burlington and Cokeville square off Friday at Burlington to determine the conference champion and the top playoff seeds. Wind River has chance to make the playoffs if it can defeat Riverside on Friday and Saratoga can win over Rocky Mountain. If those events fall into place, a conference tie breaker will determine who will travel to Lusk in the opening round.
Friday's game will be the final one between the Wranglers and Panthers for a while. Because of declining enrollment, Saratoga will drop to six-man football next season while Shoshoni will remain in the 1-A 11-man west league.
Contrasting styles took the field Friday with Saratoga grinding out 328 yards on the ground while attempting just two passes, both of which fell incomplete. Shoshoni countered with a balanced attack that saw the Wranglers pick up 354 total yards with 222 coming on the ground and 132 through the air.
Junior quarterback Tyler Clemetson continued to play well, throwing three touchdowns in the game with scoring strikes to Mason Steffen, Lawry Johnson and Josh Thoren. Clemetson added another score on a five-yard run.
Shoshoni scored quickly on its first possession behind solid running from Jayden Haslam and receptions by Johnson and Thoren. Haslam broke a pair of tackles and outran the Saratoga defense on a 41-yard scamper to open scoring. Thoren's point afterward gave Shoshoni a 7-0 lead early in the contest.
Saratoga mounted an 11-play, 65-yard drive on the ensuing series and closed the gap to one on a Ben Gates quarterback sneak just four minutes later.
Shoshoni wasted little time on its next score, taking just 40 seconds on a three-play 57-yard drive capped by a 34-yard strike from Clemetson to Thoren.
Shoshoni bumped its lead to 20-6 on a third down pass from Clemetson to Mason Steffen. The Panthers played much of the game without a safety, leaving their corners in single coverage. Shoshoni took advantage, this time on an out route by Steffen.
With the persistence of an advancing glacier, the Panthers mounted a 16-play drive from their own 20-yard line after Thoren's kick sailed out of the end zone. Saratoga's longest run was only 12 yards, and they converted third down plays five times in the drive before Waddie Love scored on a two-yard plunge with just two seconds remaining in the half. Saratoga's momentum continued in the third after Shoshoni stalled on its opening possession. Thoren boomed a 58-yard punt that Steffen covered perfectly, tackling Mike Merlo as he fielded the ball at the 11. With dogged persistence the Panthers once again drove nearly the entire length of the field on 12 straight running plays before Love scored from the 11. His two point conversion run knotted the score at 20.
Another stalled drive led to another booming punt by Thoren and this time the Wranglers held Saratoga to a three-and-out.
The Panthers punt sailed only 28 yards and Shoshoni picked up 30 yards on the punt exchange with Clemetson scoring on a five-yard run to retake the lead at 27-20.
Shoshoni mounted their longest drive of the game on a 10-play series highlighted by a pair of big gains by Micah Mills. With Mills racing outside and Haslam grinding away off tackle, the Wranglers moved to the five-yard line where Johnson made an outstanding comeback move to snatch the ball just above the grass at the goal line for the score. Saratoga ran the ball 15 consecutive plays on its final drive but took a lot of time doing it before Love finally scored on a four-yard dive with 1:07 left in the game. Clemetson recovered the ensuing onside kick, and the Wranglers kneeled out the game in the victory formation to advance to the playoffs.
SHOSHONI 13 7 7 6 - 33
SARATOGA 6 6 8 6 - 26
Shoshoni -- Jayden Haslam, 41-yard run (Josh Thoren kick), 8:45.
Saratoga -- Ben Gates, 1-yard run (run failed), 4:23.
Shoshoni -- Josh Thoren, 34-yard pass from Tyler Clemetson (kick failed), 3:43.
Shoshoni -- Mason Steffen, 10-yard pass from Clemetson (Thoren kick), 6:38.
Saratoga -- Waddie Love, 2-yard run (run failed), :02.
Saratoga -- Love, 11-yard run (Love run), (4:55).
Shoshoni -- Clemetson, 5-yard run (Thoren kick), 10:36.
Shoshoni -- Lawry Johnson, 5-yard pass from Clemetson (kick failed), 5:46.
Saratoga -- Love, 4-yard run (run failed), 1:07.
Total Offense: Shoshoni 354, Saratoga 328
Rushing Offense: Shoshoni 28-222; Saratoga 68-328
Passing Offense: Shoshoni 132; Saratoga - 0
Individual Rushing: Shoshoni - Micah Mills 11-86, Jayden Haslam 10-115 Tyler Clemetson 8-21; Saratoga Ryan Malone 13-57, Waddie Love 26-144, Mike Merlo 13-94, Ben Gates 16-33
Individual Passing: Shoshoni: Tyler Clemetson 10-16-0 132, Saratoga: Ben Gates 0-2-0 0
Individual Receiving: Shoshoni - Lawry Johnson 5-50, Josh Thoren 3-62, Mason Steffen 1-10, Jayden Haslam 1-10
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