Oct 19, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterThree first-half interceptions --one a pick six on Riverton's first offensive play --proved too much to overcome as the Douglas Bearcats topped the Wolverines 40-19 Friday night at Wolverine Field.
With the win, Douglas High School gains the Class 3-A East conference title. Riverton High School falls to 3-1 in conference play and will next battle Lander Valley High School, also 3-1 in league play, in what will determine the second place in the conference and the opportunity to host at least one home playoff game the following week. The loser of the Riverton-Lander game will place third in the Class 3-A East and will have to travel for the first round playoff game.
Because of a Friday conflict with a regional volleyball tournament, the Riverton-Lander game is scheduled for Thursday night at Bill Bush Memorial Stadium in Lander. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
RHS head coach Pat Patterson said Douglas had been "opportunistic" in capitalizing on its opponent's early mistakes in previous games while also being able to score quickly against the Wolverines on Friday.
After taking the opening kickoff and looking at a first down on Douglas' own 24-yard line, Bearcat Hunter Haman stepped in front of RHS junior quarterback Brandon Fullerton's first pass and zipped up the left sideline for a quick score.
Riverton's tough luck continued on its next possession when the Wolverines were whistled for two consecutive illegal motion penalties and then gave up a Fullerton sack. Despite attempting 10 offensive plays that included a first down, the net of the possession was a negative 6 yards.
"We wanted to protect from the inside out, and we did not do a good job of protecting," Patterson said.
Tristan White drilled a beautiful spiraling 66-yard punt that went into the end zone and gave Douglas the ball at its own 20-yard line to get Riverton out of poor field position.
First RHS score
After holding Douglas on downs twice on the first quarter, Riverton fought back to tie the game at 7-7 when White dashed 33 yards on a draw on the first play of the second quarter for a touchdown.
Douglas answered quickly with a 3-play, 70-yard drive that included a 58-yard pass play from Austyn Matthews to Chance Miller, and a Matthews to Brooks Blake 7-yard touchdown pass.
The Bearcats were up 14-7 at halftime, took the first possession of the second half and marched 61 yards in four plays to up their lead to 21-7.
The Wolverines made a game of it again in the third quarter. After converting a fourth down fake punt with a Fullerton to Caleb Richmond 17-yard pass, senior Austin Patterson, who had substituted for a battered Fullerton at quarterback, ran a bootleg on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Dietrik Becker's PAT was blocked, and Riverton trailed 21-13.
Douglas then made a key mistake that opened the door for Riverton. Facing a third and 15 from Riverton's 35-yard line, the snap from Douglas' center flew by Matthews, who was looking at his sideline, and Riverton's Dylan Lewis dived on the ball to give the Wolverines an opportunity to tie.
With Patterson again at quarterback, and Riverton missing its leading rusher White because of a helmet problem, senior Rhett Rogge took a trick-play handoff from Patterson and outran the Bearcat defense to the end zone.
"The fumble-ruski. That is one of the plays I brought with me," Patterson said. "It's a little wrap-around draw at the line of scrimmage. Then Rogge just kind of sat there and then he takes off. It looks like we're running our off-tackle play. They never see it."
The Wolverines try for two was denied, and 21-19 was as close as Riverton would get.
Douglas, which out-gained Riverton 417 yards to 206 yards, amped-up its offense, scored three more times, and walked away with the Class 3-A East conference title.
"Our expectation coming into the season (was a conference title)," Douglas head coach Jay Rhoades said. "We had a strong group of kids coming back, and we have a strong junior class."
The Bearcats, who have 90 athletes in their football program, play Friday at Torrington to end their regular season before having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
As for the Wolverines, Patterson will now evaluate whether a change will be made at quarterback for Thursday's game at Lander.
"Coming into the season, the thought was if they are equal, if it is apples and apples, we need to play the junior (Fullerton) because he's the future," Patterson said. "We subbed because (Fullerton) was hurt. If Austin (Patterson) goes in at quarterback, we can put Brandon (Fullerton) at receiver, and we don't miss a step. We'll have to see how Brandon feels."
Douglas 40, Riverton 19
DOUGLAS --7 7 7 19 --40
RIVERTON --0 7 12 0 --19
Douglas --Hamon, 24-yard interception return, Leuthan PAT, 7-0, 11:41
Riverton --White, 23-yard run, Becker PAT, 7-7, 11:49
Douglas --Brooks, 7-yard pass from Matthews, Leuthan PAT, 14-7, 10:36
Douglas --Barker, 35-yard pass from Matthews, Leuthan PAT, 21-7, 10:25
Riverton --Patterson, 1-yard run, PAT blocked, 21-13, 3:53
Riverton --Rogge, 17-yard run, 2-point conversion failed, 21-19, 9:59
Douglas --Barker, 41-yard run, Leuthan PAT, 28-19, 8:31
Douglas --Sanderson, 25-yard pass from Matthews, PAT failed, 34-19, 4:52
Douglas --Barker, 21-yard pass from Matthews, PAT failed, 40-19, 2:04
RUSHING --Douglas: Barker 20-179, Boner 3-10, Matthews 8- -15, Thompson 1-2. Total 32-175. Riverton: White 16-73, Rogge 3-46, Lewis 9-18, Patterson 5-12, Fullerton 7- -18. Total 39-131.
PASSING --Douglas: Matthews 11-22-1 242. Riverton Fullerton 6-15-3 68, Patterson 1-7-1 31.
RECEIVING --Douglas: Barker 3-70, Miller 2-87, Sanderson 2-37, Lebert 2-28, Boner 1-12, Brooks 1-8. Riverton Patterson 3-31, Hartbank 2-20, Richmond 1-17, McMenamy 1-7.
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