ROCK SPRINGS – Following their opening season loss to Sheridan on the road less than two weeks ago, the Rock Springs High School football team bounced back in a big way with a win at home.
The Tigers hosted Laramie in their home opener Friday and beat the Plainsmen 40-7. RSHS got off to a great start, scoring four touchdowns in the first half, and never looked back.
Following a 27-0 halftime lead, Rock Springs scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to secure a 37-point victory. Between Collin Madsen, Blaine Richards, Mason Isaacson and a committee of running backs, Laramie’s defense had a tough time dealing with the Tigers run game all night Friday.
On the game’s opening drive, Madsen came up big on defense. On fourth down and 8, Madsen tackled his opponent to ground, forcing the Plainsmen to turn the ball over on down. This gave the Tigers great field position as Rock Springs took the ball over on its own 43-yard line with just under nine minutes remaining in the quarter.
The Tigers made their drives count, going 4 of 4 in the first half. On their very first drive, it took the home team 10 plays before starting quarterback Seth Hymas found Cadon Shaklee for an 8-yard touchdown. Madsen capped the play with a successful point after to go up 7-0 with 4:20 remaining.
Trailing early, Laramie did everything it could to get back in the game, but the Tigers defense slammed the door shut. After starting at its own 14-yard line, Laramie got only one first down before Rock Springs forced the Plainsmen to punt again.
The Rock Springs offense came back out onto the field with just under three minutes remaining and the ball on their own 40-yard line.
Due to a fast moving clock and Laramie’s defense putting up a fight, the Tigers started of the second quarter leading by just seven. Fortunately, it didn’t take them long to find the end zone again.
To start the second quarter, Hymas found Madsen on a crucial third down and 4 for 11 yards. This not only moved the chains, but it kept the momentum alive.
Five plays later, on fourth down and 5 yards to go, Hymas connected with Justis Reese for a 28-yard catch and run that resulted in a touchdown and a 13-0 Rock Springs lead. Madsen kicked the ball right through the uprights to make it a two-score game with only 9:04 remaining in the half.
Laramie found itself in a deeper hole, but due to the Tigers’ aggressive defense, the Plainsmen had no idea how to move the ball down field.
In less than three minutes, Rock Springs forced Laramie to punt the ball after another quick three and out. This gave the Tigers a first down at their own 30-yard line with 6:58 before halftime.
To start the drive, Hymas handed the ball off to Okere for a simple 4-yard pickup. On the second play of the drive, RSHS senior Chase Petty found a gaping hole for a 66-yard touchdown run. During his monster run, Petty broke three tackles before, crossing the goal line to give his team a commanding 21-point lead.
Just when Laramie thought nothing else could go wrong, the Tigers proved otherwise. On the Plainsmen’s next offensive drive, Okere picked off the quarterback for the first interception of the night.
Okere’s interception not only killed Laramie’s spirits, but it allowed the Tigers hot offense back onto the field with just over four minutes in the half.
With the entire crowd back on its feet and Hymas back under center, the quarterback led the Tigers down field and in 10 plays had his team knocking on the door again. On a crucial third down and goal, Hymas found I in the corner of the end zone for a beautiful 3-yard touchdown grab.
By the time Rock Springs kicked the ball back to Laramie, only 46 seconds remained on the clock. This led to Rock Springs going into halftime leading 27-0 and dominating every aspect of the game.
Unfortunately, after receiving the second-half kickoff, the first drive of the third quarter did not go in the Tigers’ favor. After driving the ball down field, Madsen’s field-goal attempt was blocked, giving Laramie the ball back.
Eight plays into Laramie’s drive, the Tigers defense had the Plainsmen right where they wanted them. However, on a crucial fourth down and 6, Rock Springs was caught with a face mask penalty. This led to a Plainsmen first down and goal on the Tigers 9-yard line with 1:50 remaining in the quarter. Two plays later, Laramie’s quarterback found an open receiver for their first and only score of the night.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before Rock Springs was back in its groove. After starting their next drive at their own 20-yard line, it took the Tigers nine plays to move the ball 77-yards down field. Madsen busted through for a 3-yard score with 9:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.
To set up the scoring drive, Hymas found Reese just two plays earlier for a huge 41-yard catch and run, and Reese wasn’t done. After the Tigers kicked the ball back to Laramie, the RSHS senior came up big on defense. On the first throw of the drive, Reese picked off the Plainsmen quarterback, resulting in the Tigers’ second interception of the night.
The interception took the wind out of the Plainsmen sail and allowed Rock Springs to take the ball over on the opposite 34-yard line with 9:37 remaining in the game.
Three plays into the drive, on a crucial third down and 3, Hymas found Okere for a 13-yard catch to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, Petty showed off his speed again, this time for a 10-yard carry as Rock Springs was now on the 1-yard line with just over seven minutes still to play.
RSHS senior running back Dylan Christopherson ran the ball in for the final score and final nail in Laramie’s coffin.
Following another three and out by the Plainsmen, the Tigers got the ball one last time, but it resulted in a turnover on downs after Issacson attempted to run the ball in but got stopped short of the goal line with 19 seconds remaining.
Up next, Rock Springs will look to keep its momentum going when the team hosts conference rival Cheyenne Central High School on Friday, Sept. 13, at Tigers Stadium. Friday’s kickoff is set for 6 p.m.