ROCK SPRINGS – On a cold and windy Friday night, the Rock Springs High School football team hosted Campbell County for homecoming.
The Camels were looking to spoil the night for the Tigers, but RSHS put its foot on the gas pedal by taking a 14-7 lead into halftime and never looked back. In the final two quarters, Rock Springs held the Camels scoreless and punched in two more touchdowns to win by a final score of 28-7.
Right from the start, Rock Springs’ defense came out ready to play. On the Camels’ opening drive, Campbell County secured only one first down. RSHS defensive lineman Blaine Richards forced a punt after wrapping up the running back 5 yards short of the marker for a big third-down stop.
Unfortunately, after a great series by the defense, Rock Springs’ offense took a while to get going. Not only were the Tigers trying to go down field into the brutal wind, but Campbell County’s defense held the Tigers to only 22 yards on their opening drive.
Campbell County got the ball back halfway through the quarter. After another big stop on third down, this time from Avery Maslen, the Tigers forced the Camels to punt the ball away for a second time.
With just over five minutes remaining in the first quarter, Rock Springs’ offense found some rhythm. On the very first play from scrimmage, senior running back Landon Toth got the run game going with a quick 2-yard pickup.
Two plays later, on a long third-down situation, RSHS quarterback Seth Hymas found Justis Reese down field for a 10-yard catch to keep the drive alive. Three plays later, after driving the ball all the way down to the Camels 37-yard line, Hymas avoided pressure by the Camels and broke free for an 11-yard run before finally being brought down at the 26-yard line. Hymas dropped back, and thanks to some great blocking by the offensive line, he had time to find receiver Chase Petty for a 12-yard catch to put the Tigers in striking distance.
Three plays later, Rock Springs finally found its way into the end zone after Richards broke toward the sideline and across the goal line for a 6-yard touchdown run with four seconds remaining in the quarter. RSHS junior Collin Madsen kicked through his first of four point after attempts to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Trailing by a touchdown, Campbell County got the ball back to start the second quarter, but could not find a way to stop the Tigers’ dominant defense. In another long third down, Petty and Cadon Shaklee came up big and tackled the Camels runner 4 yards shy of the first-down marker, resulting in another Campbell County punt.
A few minutes later, after forcing Rock Springs to a quick three-and-out, Campbell County got the ball back at the Tigers’ 23-yard line. In five plays the visitors tied the game with just over six minutes remaining in the half. Fortunately, the 6-yard touchdown pass was the only score the RSHS defense allowed.
Sophomore Andrew Skorcz was back to return the kick, and thanks to a strong run up field, the Tigers took the ball over at their own 41-yard line with 5:45 remaining on the clock.
Not only was Rock Springs back in great starting field position, but it took the Tigers only seven plays to take a 14-7 lead. On the third play of the drive, RSHS sophomore Isaac Schoenfeld found room for a 9-yard run, where he was eventually tackled down at the Camels 47-yard line.
Four plays later, following a holding penalty by the defense, Hymas decided to keep the ball himself as he sprinted across the goal line untouched for a 16-yard touchdown run with 3:08 left in the half.
After getting the ball back, Campbell County tried to drive the ball down field but was held to only 3 yards. Rock Springs forced the Camels to punt the ball for the fourth time in five drives.
With just over two minutes before halftime, Rock Springs was forced to start the drive all the way back at their own 20-yard line. Working against the clock, Hymas got the drive going with a huge 9-yard pickup thanks to some great blocking from his o-line.
Following another penalty on the defense, Rock Springs was given a first down at its own 43-yard line. Petty then found space for an 11-yard pickup. On the very next play, Hymas found Reese down field for a crucial 24-yard catch, but RSHS needed to hurry.
With only 16 seconds remaining and down at the Camels 22-yard line, the Tigers got off one more play, but it was good for only a yard. RSHS head coach Mark Lenhardt tried to get his offense to clock the ball in hopes of a last-second field goal. Unfortunately, by the time the Rock Springs got lined up, the clock ran out, forcing the Tigers to go into halftime with only a one-possession lead.
Rock Springs got the ball to start the second half, but after being forced to a quick three-and-out, Madsen was forced to punt the ball back to Campbell County with just over eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Due to an illegal motion penalty by the Camels offense and a great play on third down from RSHS defensive lineman Brandon Mortensen, the Camels never crossed midfield and were forced to punt the ball away for a fifth time.
Rock Springs got the ball back at its own 5-yard line, and even with the cold wind blowing in their faces, the Tigers still found a way to go 95 yards for another score. Eating up almost eight minutes on the clock, Rock Springs ran 13 plays before Hymas found Petty in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown. The Tigers went ahead by two possessions and only allowed Campbell County to touch the ball one time in the entire third quarter.
Campbell County got the ball back with 11:56 remaining on the clock, but after only three plays, the Camels were forced to punt yet again.
After a short punt into the wind, Rock Springs started its next drive inside Camel territory at the 47-yard line. On the second play, Hymas threw to Reese, who cut over the middle for a massive 50-yard touchdown pass with 9:09 remaining in the game.
The senior still wasn’t done. On the Camels’ next drive, on first down and 10 from their own 20-yard line, Reese intercepted a deep ball down field and forced Campbell County’s offense to commit its first turnover of the night.
With over eight minutes left to play, Hymas and the Tigers offense took over at the Camels’ 43-yard line. After a 9-yard catch from Shoenfeld and an 8-yard run from Isaacson, Rock Springs was forced to turn the ball over on downs after Madsen came up short on a 36-yard field goal attempt.
Not only was the missed kick good news for the Camels, but they had some motivation going into its next drive. Starting all the way back at its own 20-yard line, the visiting team ran seven plays and took almost three and a half minutes off the clock before being stopped short, resulting in another turnover on downs.
Maslen and Shaklee came up big for the Tigers on defense. Following a third-down stop from Maslen, Campbell County was forced into a long fourth down. Just when the running back thought he had the first down, Shaklee wrapped the runner up 1 yard short of the marker to give his team the ball back with just over three minutes left.
In the final drive of the game, RSHS backup quarterback Brock Bider replaced Hymas under center. On all seven plays of the drive, the sophomore pitched the ball back to Isaacson, who combined for 27 yards to seal a 28-7 victory.
Going into Friday’s game, Campbell County running back Vijay Pitter led the state in rushing. Thanks to an outstanding job from the Tigers defensive line, RSHS contained Pitter to only 35 yards all night.
Throughout the Tigers three-game win streak, Rock Springs’ offense has scored 100 points while the defense has only given up a combined 10 points.
Following Friday’s homecoming win, Rock Springs has beaten Campbell County three-straight times. Up next, the Tigers will look to keep its winning streak alive when No. 1 ranked Thunder Basin comes to town on Friday, Oct. 11. Kickoff for this game is set for 6 p.m. inside Tigers Stadium.
Coach Lenhardt is proud of how well his guys have responded after dropping two of its first three games in 2019. Come Friday, the first-year Tigers head coach expects to see another battle, possibly the biggest one this season.
“Thunder Basin is a great team,” he said. “We expect them to bend, but not break. Nobody this year has been able to break them. For us to be successful, we need to possess and take care of the ball for four quarters and continue playing complimentary football.”
As for practice this week, Lenhardt said he will switch a few things up to prepare for a two-dimensional team like Thunder Basin.