Punchers knock out Lovell with big plays

BIG PINEY – Tristan Barney threw four touchdown passes, Big Piney's defense forced five turnovers and the Punchers ran all over Lovell on Friday, Sept. 29, 34-7.

Barney's four touchdown passes were all for 39 yards or longer. The first one, a 77-yard strike to Adam Willoughby, however, is what gave Big Piney the momentum.

"That was huge," Big Piney head coach Aaron Makelky said. "We were backed up but knew if we could get our best athletes open in space on the outside, Lovell would have a hard time tackling them."

Lovell started the game by recovering an onside kick. With the Bulldogs in their territory, Big Piney's defense stepped up and forced Lovell to turn the ball over on downs at the 30-yard line.

Four plays later, however, Lovell picked off a pass to start another drive in Big Piney territory. Lovell picked up two first downs to get a first-and-goal at Big Piney's 8-yard line. The Punchers' defense then stepped up again. Penalties backed Lovell up 10 yards. After two incomplete passes and a tackle for a loss, the Bulldogs were faced with fourth-and-goal. Lovell took a shot at the end zone, but Jake Pape jumped up to knock the pass away to end the threat.

"That's not how you want to start a game on offense, but it was a good start on defense," Makelky said. "Without (the big defensive plays) we would have spotted them a touchdown or two."

On the next play, Barney connected with Willoughby near the sideline. Willoughby got by the first defender and sprinted another 70 yards to score the game's first touchdown.

Big Piney's defense made another big play to start the second quarter. Tanner Hansen recovered a fumble at mid-field and the offense capitalized. After converting on fourth down, Chancy Hunt scored on a four-yard touchdown run to put Big Piney up, 14-0.

Later in the half, Barney tossed a 48-yard touchdown pass to Jake Pape and the Punchers took a 21-0 lead into halftime.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Barney connected with Pape on a 51-yard touchdown pass to start the scoring in the fourth quarter. Big Piney missed the extra point, but still led 27-0.

Lovell got on the scoreboard with a 4-yard touchdown run, but Big Piney responded. Barney threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Zane Meisner for the final tally.

With 279 passing yards, and 106 on the ground, Big Piney outgained the Bulldogs 385-140. Barney finished completed 12 of 23 pass attempts for 274 yards. Lovell, meanwhile, only completed 7 of 23 passes for 43 yards.

Willoughby led the team with 57 rushing yards on seven carries.

Hunt and T.J. Frazier also recovered fumbles for Big Piney while Pape intercepted a pair of passes. Big Piney threw one interception and lost one fumble.

Hunt, Justin Seeman, Pape, Willoughby and Frazier all made at least five tackles in the game. Seeman and Tate Hughes also recorded sacks.

With the win, the Punchers improved to 4-1 overall, and 3-1 in the 2A West Conference. Mountain View, who shut out Pinedale, 40-0 Friday, leads the conference at 4-1, 3-0, followed by Big Piney, Greybull (3-2, 2-1), Lyman (3-2, 2-1), Pinedale (2-3, 2-2), Lovell (1-4, 0-3) and Kemmerer (1-4, 0-4).

The top four teams will make the state playoffs.

The Punchers, however, will have one of its biggest games Friday when it hosts Pinedale for Homecoming. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m.

"It's more than just a rivalry game or a Homecoming game – it's a playoff-seed type of game," Makelky said. "There are huge playoff implications for both teams."

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