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Rams stunned in final seconds, lose 64-62
Dubois seniors Austin Tharp and Sterling Baker closed on Midwest running back Kacey Guseman in 6-man semi-final action Friday night in Natrona County. Photo by Randy Tucker

Rams stunned in final seconds, lose 64-62

Nov 10, 2013 - By Randy Tucker, Sports Writer

Victorious Midwest advances to the Class 1-A 6-man football state-championship football game this Friday.

MIDWEST -- And then there were none.

For the first time since the Dubois Rams dropped to 6-man football two seasons ago, they're not heading to Laramie for the state championship game.

Dubois fell 64-62 to Midwest on the road in Natrona County Friday night in nightmarish fashion, as the home-standing Oilers tallied 20 points in the final two minutes of the game to roll past the Rams and into a championship game with next weekend.

Midwest rolled up 33 fourth-quarter points after Dubois doubled the score at 48-24 early in the third period.

The Rams were in a bit of disarray defensively after senior Nathan Moore was suspended from the team after an earlier incident. With just 10 players remaining on the roster, Dubois head coach David Trembly had to rearrange his defense for the semifinal tilt.

The changes left the usually effective Ram pass defense vulnerable.

In his final game as a Ram, Dubois senior Sterling Baker continued to stun the faithful with a brilliant offensive performance. Baker opened play with a 48-yard cross field scamper that put DHS up 6-0.

Midwest has a varied offense with multiple weapons. Tucker Even tied the game 6-6 on an 18-yard run, and it became evident that all the lights on the Oiler scoreboard would be put to the test in this game.

After weather predictions calling for gusting winds up to 45 mph, fans were pleasantly surprised with a calm, mild November evening.

Playing in the near-perfect conditions allowed both teams to exhibit their offensive prowess.

Just 14 seconds after Midwest tied the score, Baker put the Rams up again on an arching 77-yard kickoff return. Rowan Hawk added the point after, and Dubois led 14-6.

The Oilers went to the air for a couple of completions, and Cameron Ray capped the drive on a 1-yard run. Kurt Leseberg blocked the ensuing kick, and the Rams held a 2-point advantage.

With Trembly exhorting his players the Rams responded with a 34-yard Baker scoring run and another of 8 yards from Hawk set up by an interception by Ryan Eulberg.

A blitz by Baker tossed Ray for a 10-yard loss on a fourth-and-8 attempt from the Dubois 32, and Baker scored on a shifting, cut back run from 40 yards out on the next play that froze a pair of Midwest defenders in their tracks. The kick failed, but the Rams held an apparently decisive 34-12 lead.

The 6-man game is wide open and unpredictable. On the next series, the Rams knocked the ball loose from Midwest's Kacey Guseman, but Ray picked up the fumble and raced 66 yards for a Midwest score.

Baker had perhaps his most-impressive run of the season on the next play, powering 67-yards through the Midwest defense before dragging a pair of tacklers to the 2-yard line. The Rams stalled at that point with Midwest rallying on a solid goal-line stand. Kiya Guseman, Even, Josh Lindsay and Landon Rodabaugh all played stellar defense, with Rodabaugh tackling Walker Carrico at the 3-yard line to force the ball over on downs.

Three passes by Ray to three different receivers, and a final scoring toss from Ray to Lindsay, closed out the half with Midwest trailing 34-24.

Carrico blocked Ray's punt attempt from the 10, and the 6-4 junior picked up the ball and rolled into the end zone for another Dubois touchdown to open the second half scoring.

An improvised run/pass play from Baker to Leseberg doubled the score at 48-24, and it looked like Dubois had the game well in hand.

But Midwest rallied on a Guseman run to end the quarter trailing 48-30.

A Baker run was answered quickly by a pass from Ray to Guseman. Even added another score on a 20-yard run, and the Dubois crowd sensed a change in momentum with 5:28 left in the game and the Rams holding a tenuous 56-44 advantage.

The final touchdown of Baker's outstanding career came on a 25-yard run that could only be described as a power dance as the senior sidestepped a pair of tacklers, outran two more, then blasted through the final pair to give the Rams a 62-44 lead with 3:14 left in the game. Even broke through to block the all-important extra-point kick.

The final three minutes of the game was an eternity for the Rams. Even and Ray combined for a pair of touchdown passes, the first from 10 yards out with 2:02 left.

Midwest held the Rams on four downs and used all its timeouts to get the ball back with less than a minute remaining. Ray threw the ball high in the air and Even looked backward over his right shoulder to pull the pass in before racing the remaining 20 yards on a 51-yard strike.

With the score at 62-57 the ensuing onside kick was recovered by Ray at the 34-yard line.

The Oilers wasted no time, with Ray hitting Lindsey for a 24-yard score. Guseman added the conversion run to give the Oilers a 64-62 lead with 23 seconds left in the game.

Baker ran the ball once, then threw three long passes. the first was broken up with a fingertip deflection by Ray, preventing a wide open Carrico from scoring. The second was ineffective, and the final play of the season came down to Baker throwing a pass to Hawk that hit the junior's hands in stride near the goal line but bounced off, and the Dubois season ended.

Dubois loses just two seniors in Baker and Austin Tharp.

MIDWEST 12 12 7 33 -- 64

DUBOIS 28 6 14 14 -- 62

First Quarter

DUB - Sterling Baker 14-run (kick failed) 6:52

MID - Tucker Even 18-run (kick failed) 6:07

DUB - Baker 77-kickoff return (Rowan Hawk) 5:53

MID - Cameron Ray 1-run (kick failed) 3:55

DUB - Baker 34-run (kick failed) 3:48

DUB - Hawk 8-run (Hawk kick) 1:34

Second Quarter

DUB - Baker 40-run (kick failed) 7:43

MID - Ray 66-fumble run (pass failed) 7:21

MID - Josh Lindsey 12-pas from Ray (kick failed) 1:11

Third Quarter

DUB - Walker Carrico blocked punt covered in end zone (Hawk kick) 6:11

DUB - Kurt Leseberg 24-pass from Baker (kick wide) 3:23

MID - Kacey Guseman 8-run (Jordan Schmidt pass from Ray) 1:21

Fourth Quarter

DUB - Baker 4-run (Hawk kick) 9:15

MID - Guseman 29-pass from Ray (run failed) 7:27

MID - Even 20-run (Guseman run) 5:28

DUB - Baker 24-run (kick failed) 3:14

MID - Even 10-pass from Ray (kick failed) 2:02

MID - Even 51-pass from Ray (Even run):39

MID - Lindsey 24-pass from Ray (Guseman run):23

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Dubois, Rams