Punchers headed to playoffs with two wins in a week

Robert Galbreath photos

BIG PINEY – Big Piney punched its ticket to the playoffs with a 27-6 victory over Thermopolis in a rare Tuesday afternoon showdown.

The Punchers regrouped three days later and defeated Kemmerer, 37-20, securing the No. 3 seed in the 2A West Conference.

Big Piney hits the road and plays Wheatland in the first playoff round on Friday, Oct. 29. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“I’m proud of the team for finishing off a really difficult eight days,” said head coach Ryan Visser. “Not many people can say they’ve played three varsity football games in that time frame. We’re really excited for the opportunity to be able to go to the playoffs and play a really good Wheatland team. We’re going to have to have a productive week of practice and really execute our game plan to get a win.”

Thermopolis

The Punchers hit the ground running on Tuesday, scoring a touchdown on their first possession. The Big Piney defense showed no mercy, overpowering the Bobcat offense in the first half.

Coach Visser was pleased to see his players take an early initiative.

“The last couple of weeks, we’ve kind of battled into halftime and then turned it on the in second half,” said head coach Ryan Visser. “I really emphasized to the kids to start the game faster, and they did, especially defensively. Offense also got going pretty good. I’m happy with the effort.”

The Big Piney defense shut down Thermopolis’ first drive with tackles by sophomore Zach Murphy, senior Jaspur Brower and sophomore Karsyn Gurr.

Big Piney started the following drive at its own 35-yard line.

Brower ate up the first yards for the Punchers. Senior quarterback Thomas Barron completed a 15-yard pass to senior Dom Snively for a first down.

Brower caught a handoff and charged forward for another first down.

Junior Thomas Howard rushed into the end zone, scoring the Punchers’ first touchdown.

An ironclad Puncher defense forced the Bobcat offense to turn over possession on Thermopolis’ subsequent drive. Brower, Gurr, senior Jaron Petty, senior Seth Stoutenburg and junior Hampton Jones each pulled off tackles.

In the second quarter, the Big Piney defense hammered away at the Bobcats. Junior Jovany Munoz took down a Bobcat runner behind the line of scrimmage. Senior Koy Walton, Petty and Kline played the next tackle. An incomplete pass resulted in the Bobcats punting.

Big Piney returned the punt at its 26-yard line. Gurr raced up the left side of the field for a first down. Munoz carried the ball to the Bobcats’ 35-yard line.

Barron wound up a pass to Petty at the 12-yard line for a first down. Munoz took the handoff from Barron and bulldozed into the end zone. A good kick by senior Jafet Martinez widened the Punchers’ lead to 13-0.

Howard’s kickoff landed in the end zone. Thermopolis struggled forward, met by tackles led by Brower, Stoutenburg, Walton and senior Dalton Bell. Munoz pulled off a tackle for no gain. Bell intercepted a pass and the Punchers regained possession.

Big Piney led at halftime, 13-0.

In the second half, Petty ended Thermopolis’ first drive with an interception. The Bobcat defense answered and closed down the Punchers with an interception.

Taking possession, Thermopolis drove the ball into the end zone. A tackle by Brower stopped the Bobcats’ attempt at extra points.

Petty returned the kickoff at the Punchers’ 40-yard line, raced straight through an opening in the Bobcat defense and dashed 60 yards to the end zone. A good kick by Martinez put Big Piney ahead, 20-6.

Brower and Howard relentlessly moved the ball forward as the fourth quarter began. Bell caught the handoff and gained enough yards for a first down.

Brower carried the ball to the Rangers’ 10-yard line for another first down. Munoz advanced to the 1-yard line. Barron dove into the end zone for the Punchers’ fourth touchdown.

Martinez made good on a kick. The scoreboard stood at 27-6 in Big Piney’s favor.

The Puncher defense hounded the Bobcat offense on the following drive, including a tackle by senior Karson Cline. Thermopolis fumbled and Jones recovered the ball.

Interceptions by Barron and Gurr prevented Thermopolis from entering the red zone as the final minutes ticked down.

Kemmerer

Big Piney struck with a touchdown on its first drive during Friday’s match.

Brower returned the ball at the Punchers’ 43-yard line. Under pressure, Barron passed the ball to Bell in the backfield. Bell swept up the right, gaining 4 yards for Big Piney.

Barron completed a pass to Petty at the Rangers’ 40-yard line. Munoz and Gurr tore up yards, advancing into the red zone.

Brower charged up the middle to the 15-yard line. Barron wound up a pass to Bell, who rushed forward to the 1-yard line. Brower shouldered his way up the middle and into the end zone.

The Rangers replied with a touchdown on the following drive and the first quarter ended in a 6-6 tie.

Munoz returned the kickoff to Big Piney’s 36-yard line. Barron completed a pass to Petty, moving the Punchers into Ranger territory.

Brower ate up yards on the next three plays. Barron fired off a pass another pass to Petty deep in the Rangers’ red zone.

Brower caught the handoff and plowed into the end zone. Martinez’s kick put the Punchers’ ahead, 13-6.

Stiff Puncher defense forced Kemmerer to turnover possession on the ensuing drive.

Big Piney returned the punt to Kemmerer’s 25-yard line. Barron completed a pass to Walton at the 10-yard line for a first down. Winding up another pass, Barron shot the ball to Snively, who raced into the end zone for another touchdown. Martinez kicked in the extra point, widening Big Piney’s lead to 20-6.

The Rangers scored a touchdown and 2-point conversion on their next drive, resulting in a 20-20 stalemate at halftime.

The Big Piney offense broke the tie on its first drive in the third quarter. Brower, Howard and Munoz moved the ball into Ranger territory. Barron completed passes to Walton and then Bell. Bell broke a tackle and zipped up the right into the end zone.

Barron passed to Petty in the end zone for two extra points and Big Piney took the lead, 28-20.

The Big Piney stalled offense down as the third quarter came to a close and the Punchers opted for a field goal. Martinez’s kick added 3 points to the Punchers’ tally.

Kemmerer took possession before an ironclad Puncher defense forced a punt.

Big Piney started the next drive at its own 28-yard line. Barron delivered a pass to Petty at the Puncher 40-yard line. Petty turned and sprinted 60 yards into the end zone to score the Punchers’ final touchdown.

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