Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Warriors falter in home opener to No. 5-ranked Bison


September 9, 2017


Warrior Andrew Edholm is swarmed by the Bison defense during Worland's 24-12 loss to Buffalo Friday night at Worland High School.

WORLAND — Miscues in the first half cost the Worland High School football team Friday night as they hosted the Buffalo Bison at Worland High School.

The No. 5-ranked Bison (2-0) used the first half to go up 17-0 and never look back from there as they defeated the Warriors (1-1) 24-12.

“That first half [Buffalo] had some big runs and showcased their speed. For us it was our mental mistakes not getting to our gaps and sticking to our assignments. Like we tell the guys, a guy can be the fastest guy in the state but if you don’t give him anywhere to go, it’s not going to do anything for him. But if you give a guy with medium speed a big gap he’s going to get big yards. That really cost us in the first half,” said WHS football coach Ryan Utterback.

The Warriors play in the second half was much better as the defense only allowed one score and the offense was able to get on the board twice.

“The second half we calmed down some, shutdown those mental mistakes and fixed a number of things. We still had some mental lapses but our physical play was getting to [Buffalo]. They were slow to get up after some plays and I think that was an advantage to us, but we just had too many mental mistakes early there in the game,” said Utterback.

The first half was a struggle for the Warriors on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Warriors could not develop a consistent rhythm. Most series would start with a promising run and a march toward the end zone but then a bad play would arise and stall out the entire drive.

“Ultimately we need to string together a number of plays and we’re stressing that you cannot take a play off. Even watching film of last week’s game we’d have 10 guys doing what they were supposed to but one guy was taking the play off. Either because he thought he could or because he didn’t know what he should be doing. Stuff like that can cost you and we need everyone to step up to that level of keeping that focus for a 10-, 11- or 12-play drive,” said Utterback.

In the first series of the game Warrior Carson Lyman picked up a 15-yard run but three plays later the drive stalled. On the ensuing punt the Bison blocked the ball but quarterback Andrew Edholm scooped up the ball and just as he was being tackled flipped the ball to senior Matthew Sanchez, who took it 10 yards for the first down.

However, the Warriors were unable to take advantage of the big play and as a result punted the ball away.

The struggles defensively for the Warriors began to manifest on Buffalo’s second possession. Using their speed, the Bison picked up big yardage on a 29-yard outside run. From there the Bison kept marching until they capped it off with an 11-yard touchdown run.

After another promising offensive drive stalled out for Worland, the Bison kept the Warriors on their heels on their next offensive possession.

Worland’s defense was able to hold Buffalo to a field goal pushing the score to a manageable 10-0. On the following kickoff Buffalo sent a squib down the left center of the field and Worland struggled to field the ball. The Bison were able to fall on the ball and take possession at the WHS 42-yard line.

The Warrior defense forced the Bison to kick another field goal, but Buffalo had a bad snap and was able to convert on fourth-and-eight to the Worland 10.

As the first half was winding down the Bison punched in a score to go up 17-0 with 27.3 seconds remaining.

The Warriors went three-and-out on their opening drive of the second half. The Bison then took the ball and marched down the field for their final score of the game to make it 24-0.

Worland finally got on the board on a Jaime Luna 2-yard rushing touchdown to start the fourth quarter; their next score came on a Lyman 2-yard rush with around seven minutes remaining in the quarter. Both two-point conversions failed, bringing the score to 24-12.

After those scores Worland ran out of steam and time as Buffalo handed them their first loss of the season.

Lyman led all Warrior runners with 61 yards on nine carries and a touchdown, his second of the season. On defense Sanchez, J.R. Hofmann and Devin Mercado led the team with 19.5, 15 and 11 tackles, respectively.

The postgame message Utterback and his staff delivered to the team was about taking responsibility for the loss, brushing themselves off and getting back to work.

“We told them if we focus and execute we can win, but we did not do that and against a good team like Buffalo you can’t expect to win without that. The encouraging part is the potential is there if we can tighten up some of those mental things, I’m excited to see what we can do. Now it depends on how we react, if we take responsibility for this loss we can move forward but if we’re feeling bad for ourselves that’s going to make it for a hard road for us,” said Utterback.

Next for the Warriors will be another home game as they welcome the No. 2-ranked Green River Wolves.

“They have a lot of good athletes and they’re going to be a team to be reckoned with. If we can get rid of some of these mistakes I have every reason to believe we will be competitive with them. Just like with Buffalo we can’t expect to make the same mistakes and still be in the game.

“We wanted to run the clock [Friday] and we did that with drives that took a lot of time off the clock we just couldn’t finish. We need to be finishing plays on both sides. There were a number of times where we had them wrapped up for a stop or loss and, credit to the Buffalo runners they kept their legs moving, they’d get out of it,” said Utterback.

Kickoff vs. the Wolves will be at 6 p.m. at Worland High School.


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