LARAMIE – The only turnover of the Class 2A state championship game came when it was most needed.
With 3 minutes, 18 seconds remaining, Lyman senior Alex Bradshaw intercepted a pass from Lovell quarterback Davin Crosby. That interception helped seal the game for the Eagles, who claimed their second consecutive state title with an 8-6 victory Saturday morning at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
“We said, ‘Hey, you gave up that big reception down the sideline, let’s make up for it,’” Lyman coach Dale Anderson said. “And to his credit, he was in the right place at the right time, made a big play and allowed us to finish.”
The game played out as advertised, with both offenses leaning on their effective rushing attacks. However, the Eagles rushing attacked proved more dynamic. Lyman rushed for 196 yards, including 96 in the first quarter.
“We felt like we had to be able to run the ball against them to be successful, and that’s hard because they’re a phenomenal defensive team,” Anderson said. “We just challenged our kids to be able to do that. We were thinking we would have to rely on our pass game a little bit, but our linemen and running backs stepped up big, and that was the difference in the game.”
Lyman’s lone touchdown came in the first quarter on their second drive of the contest. The Eagles went 55 yards behind the rushing attack of Ashton Houskeeper and Chevy Fackrell as Fackrell rumbled in from nine yards out for the only score of the first half.
“It’s hard to move those big guys, but I know that we had a lot of spirit,” Eagles lineman Rho Mecham said. “We’ve always been smaller. We knew if we got low on them we could move them and drive them out and get the running game going.”
The Eagles caught a break on their first possession of the third period. Backed up inside their own 10-yard line, they were forced to punt. Mckoy Smith’s punt was blocked, but he managed to pick it up and rush for a first down. The drive stalled, but regardless, the sequence took away a potential game-changing play for Lovell.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board with 11:11 to play in the fourth quarter when Amos Monterde rushed in from three yards out. However, Monterde was stuffed on the game-tying two-point conversion. That drive was kept alive with a roughing the kicker call on a punt.
“It took us a while to see where we could hopefully squeak out a few more yards, and we were able to do a better job of that in the second half,” Lovell coach Nicc Crosby said. “On our touchdown drive, we got a key completion. We knew we’d have to complete a few passes. Their run defense is just really stingy. I thought we were able to do that, unfortunately, we just couldn’t get the two-point conversation to tie it up.
“We battled hard, and so did Lyman, like we knew (they would). They just made a few more plays than we did.”
Lovell forced a punt and had its final chance to tie it up, but fell short.
Lyman held the Bulldogs to just 81 rushing yards and 121 total yards. Lovell averaged 267.7 rushing yards entering the contest.
“We watched film and did what we can to get ready,” said Houskeeper, who finished with a game-high 130 rushing yards. “We’ve played them before, so we knew what was coming. Lovell’s run through everyone this year and our defense just stepped it up.”
The victory was Lyman’s 19th consecutive win and sixth state title in program history.
“Our kids adjusted to what we were trying to do. We knew, once again, (Lovell) is so big up front, and they’ve hung their hat on that run game big time,” Anderson said. “Just a phenomenal effort, very disciplined and hard working. It’s just so much fun to watch what they started the season as, to what they became at the end of the year.”
LYMAN 8, LOVELL 6
Lovell…….. 0 0 0 6 – 6
Lyman…… 8 0 0 8 – 8
Ly: Fackrell 9 run (2-pt good), 4:03
Lo: Monterde 3 run (2-pt failed), 11:11
Lovell: Monterde 18-63, Nichols 8-11, Lindsay 1-6, Khan 1-1. Lyman: Houskeeper 35-130, Fackrell 11-52, Smith 4-14.
Lovell: Crosby 2-11-1 40. Lyman: Houskeeper 1-4 6.
Lovell: McArthur 1-32, Monterde 1-8. Lyman: Smith 1-6.
Tackles (solo-assists-total): P. Nichols, 12-3-15, B. Nichols 6-4-10, Collins 6-4-10, Hiser 4-4-8, May 3-2-5, Strom 3-1-4, Lindsay 3-1-4, Khan 1-2-3, Monterde 1-1-2, Padilla 1-1-2, Garcia 1-0-1, McArthur 0-1-1. Sacks: Collins 1-3. Tackles for loss: P. Nichols 2-6, B. Nichols 1½-2, Collins 1½-4, Hiser 1-1, May 1-1. Blocked kicks: Team 1.
Tackles (solo-assists-total): Mecham 6-3-9, Heaton 2-4-6, Fackrell 5-0-5, Smith 4-0-4, Gregory 2-2-4, Hatch 2-2-4, B. Bradshaw 2-1-3, Richards 2-1-3, Neilson 0-2-2, A. Bradshaw 1-0-1, Houskeeper 0-1-1. Tackles for loss: Heaton 1½-6, Fackrell 1-3, Hatch ½-1. Interceptions: A. Bradshaw 1-0. Pass breakups: Smith 1, B. Bradshaw 1.