Sep 28, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorJack Mazurie and Jaxon Hedges scored one touchdown apiece to put the Lander Tigers into the football victory column with heart-stopping 14-13 win Friday night at Bill Bush Stadium.
Torrington had an opportunity to deadlock the game in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers blocked the extra point to hold on for the Class 3-A East conference win.
The game was played in slick conditions after a fall snowstorm hit Lander on Thursday night and Friday morning.
"The kids played their hearts out," LVHS coach Doug Hughes said. "It's one that we knew that we could be in the game with. We got them excited about playing football, and they really committed into what we were doing."
Snow was pushed off to the two sidelines to clear the field. The second half was played in chilly weather.
"Our custodial staff, especially Rich Davey, did a great job to get the field ready for the game," Hughes said.
Hughes felt Lander's offensive line was one of the differences in the victory.
"We went into the season on a seven-man sled, and we weren't even able to push it very much," Hughes said. "We knew that we had to improve.
This week on the sled, we were moving it well on our practice field."
Talen Connell is Lander's center. Arion Mefferd and Kyle LaTorre are the guards.
The tackles are Landon Cleveland and Hunter Bregar. Reb Lindwurm is the tight end.
"It was muddy, slick and wet," Hughes said about the trenches. "I really felt like our players adjusted well and showed great toughness."
LVHS is 1-3 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Torrington stands at 1-3 and 0-1 on the year.
"We think every game is important, but obviously a conference win means a little more," Hughes said. "This was a great step."
In the win, Lander ha no turnovers.
"Our players did a great job of ball security in all phases of the game," Hughes said.
Lander plays at Douglas on Friday night in another conference battle.
Douglas is a perfect 4-0 on the season.
"Douglas throws and runs the ball well," Hughes said.
Douglas pounded Buffalo 52-0 in its conference opener.
"We are going to have to work on getting our depth a little bit better,"
Hughes said. "We did get a lot kids into the game against Torrington."
The Tigers didn't let the slick conditions bother them in the first quarter vs. Torrington. Lander took the opening kickoff right at the visiting squad and marched it down the field.
The Tigers received a break when Torrington had 12 players on the field late in the drive to keep the ball in Lander's hands.
Mazurie took advantage of the call and scored on an 8-yard run for the 6-0 lead. Mazurie's teammate Keaton Scott added the extra point for the 7-0 cushion with six minutes left in the first period.
Late in the second quarter, Torrington knotted the score up at 7-7 on 14-yard touchdown run from Skyler Miller.
On the kickoff, Hedges ran right up the middle and sprinted to the end zone for a 77-yard touchdown run to quickly give Lander back the lead at 14-7 at the 3:48 mark of the second quarter.
"The kickoff return was huge for us," Hughes said. "We had great
blocking on the return. Jaxon ran very hard through the front line."
The final two quarters were played on an even pace. Both the coaches focused on the run game in the third quarter.
After a scoreless third quarter, Torrington mounted a drive in the fourth quarter to make for a difficult finish.
At the 10:27 mark of the final period, Torrington quarterback Cadden Coffelt hit Miller for a 7-yard touchdown pass.
In the last nine minutes of the game, Hedges recovered a critical fumble during the stretch. Torrington never got close in taking back the advantage.
Lander quarterback Pete Spriggs directed the offense.
"He has became a team leader as junior," Hughes said. "I was very proud of him. He made some big plays in running the ball."
Mazurie, Hedges and Lindwurm all helped Lander's defense in the fourth quarter.
"They cleaned up everything that got past our front wall," Hughes said.
Lander 14, Torrington 13
LANDER 7 7 0 0 --14
TORRINGTON 0 7 0 6 --13
Lander --6:00, Jack Mazurie, 8-yard run, (Keaton Scott, PAT), 7-0.
Torrington -- 4:00, Skyler Miller, 14-yard run, (PAT kick), 7-7.
Lander --3:48, Jaxon Hedges, 77-yard kickoff return, (Scott, PAT), 14-7.
Torrington --10:27, Cadden Coffelt 7-yard pass to Miller, (PAT blocked) 14-13.
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