Hayden Walker attempts to catch a pass in the Sept. 21 loss against Big Piney. The Rangers face off against Greybull at home on Friday, Sept. 28, at 4:00 p.m. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)
On Friday, Sept. 21, Kemmerer traveled to Big Piney to take on the Punchers. A good crowd was there to cheer on the Rangers, but Kemmerer fell to Big Piney 32–7 in the Punchers’ Homecoming contest.
“The crowd support at the Big Piney game was phenomenal,” Rangers head coach Bart Jernigan told the Gazette. “We are truly appreciative of the attendance of our fans at these traveling games.”
The loss dropped the Rangers to 3–1, and Big Piney boosted its record to 2–2.
Kemmerer’s defense came out strong to kick off the first quarter, but Big Piney pushed through for some big gains on offense.
“Get there quicker!” the Ranger coaches told their players from the sidelines. It was a defensive flaw Kemmerer would fail to overcome in the game, leading to several big runs and touchdowns from Big Piney.
Big Piney picked up their first touchdown against the Rangers with eight minutes left in the first quarter. However, the Rangers stopped the two-point conversion, so the score stayed at 6–0.
“We did not match their intensity or execution, and that was a key factor in the outcome. We did some good things at times, but seemed to follow the good things we did with assignment and execution errors,” Jernigan said. “A good team like Big Piney will take advantage of that every time. We were playing without some players in key positions and need to prepare to handle that better this coming week.”
Senior Lowell Ellis, who usually is at center for the Rangers, went out early in the game with an injury and didn’t return. The Ranger offense had to adjust, and they were lacking that fire fans had seen in the Lyman and Pinedale games.
Toward the end of the first quarter, senior Carson Carlson secured an interception on a Big Piney pass and ran 24 yards for a Ranger touchdown. The kick by Walker was good, and the Rangers finished the first quarter leading Big Piney 7–6.
“We have a lot of work to do this week. That work starts with me and goes down the line. I have to have us more prepared,” Jernigan said.
Sophomore AQ Martinez carries the ball through a hole in Big Piney's defense on Friday, Sept. 21. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)
Kemmerer made a lot of little mistakes in the Big Piney game, including fumbling the ball twice in the first half to turn it over to Big Piney. Missed tackles resulted in Big Piney ball carriers cruising down the field into the end zone, to bring the score at the end of the first half to 12–7.
But for every Kemmerer mistake, there was also a glimmer of what brought the team success earlier this season.
AQ Martinez, Josh Thatcher and Carson Carlson continued to show their speed and quick decisions in running the ball. Jeydon Boyd and Hayden Walker had some big tackles that shook Big Piney a little, but not enough to stop the momentum of their offense.
Senior Josh Thatcher runs the ball in the game against Big Piney on Friday, Sept. 21. The Rangers lost 32-7, and play Greybull on Friday, Sept. 28, at 4:00 p.m. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)
“We have to be much better in the details. Our formula is simple: if we execute at high speed, take care of the ball, and limit penalties, we have a good chance of beating anyone we play,” Jernigan said. “This week, we have to know our jobs and game plan so well that we can execute it without having to think or second guess ourselves. To address this we will change up the practice plan a little bit and look to simplify in a couple of areas.”
Big Piney dominated the third quarter on Friday, scoring three unanswered touchdowns on the Rangers, who were racking up costly penalties on both sides of the ball. The third quarter concluded with a Big Piney lead of 26–7.
The fourth quarter saw a little more life in the Rangers defense, but they failed to take care of the ball on offense. Another Puncher touchdown brought the final score of the game to 32–7.
Kemmerer had 171 total offensive yards in the game — 67 passing and 104 rushing. Big Piney had 263 total yards in Friday’s game — 143 passing yards and 120 rushing yards.
On defense, Hayden Walker led the team with five tackles. Thatcher, Colter Brunski, Easton Rydstrom and Boyd all picked up three tackles each. Carlson, Brendan Miller and Thomas Archibald had two tackles each, and Lowell Ellis, Colter Julian and Donny Proffit each chipped in a tackle for the Rangers.
At the conclusion of the game, junior Thomas Archibald was given a sportsmanship award by the Big Piney team.
The Kemmerer Rangers play Greybull at home on Friday, Sept. 28, at 4:00 p.m.
“Greybull is a very good team with a set of good athletes. We are looking to be effective at our bread and butter and get back to the basics of what we did well in weeks one through three,” Jernigan said.
“It’ll be a stiff test for sure, but I think if we play our game, we have what it takes to walk away victorious,” Jernigan continued. “We are excited for the challenge. At this point, we are trying to take the good that led to the three in the win column and cut out the bad that led to the one in the loss column in an effort to be the best version of ourselves this week.”
Colter Brunski attempts a tackle in the Sept. 21 game against Big Piney. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)
Rangers head coach Bart Jernigan (fourth from left) said the team has to "be much better in the details." (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)