Doggers fend off Grizzlies

Cooper Smith (77) and Marcos Martinez (66) sack Rocky Mountain quarterback Lafe Files (15), while Colter McFarlin (55) looks on. Andrew Towne/Lingle Guide

LINGLE – The Lingle-Fort Laramie High School football team fended off a late momentum shift in the favor of the visiting Rocky Mountain Grizzlies en route to a 21-14 victory at Kirk Field on a chilly Friday evening.

The Doggers scored touchdowns in each of the three facets of football – offense, defense and special teams.

“The motto has been ‘Just keep playing football,’” LFL coach Brandon Gifford said. “High school football has a lot of ups and downs. We are going to make mistakes, but the other team is going to make mistakes too. We have to keep playing football.”

He added, the kids find ways to win.

“This week, our defense comes through,” Gifford said. “Our defense hasn’t been playing the greatest, but they came through and get a big pick six and hold them to only 14 points. A big special teams play. We find ways to win, and I couldn’t be prouder of the kids for that.”

The first score came on defense when sophomore defensive back Anthony Arnusch picked off a pass and took it 65 yards to the end zone with five and a half minutes left in the opening quarter. Arnusch added the point after to give his team a 7-0 lead.

“We saw on film they love to run this out routes from the slot,” Gifford said. “We told Anthony to sit on it, and Anthony studies the game. He’s a good student of the game. He did exactly what we talked about and showed him on film. He jumps the route and the rest is history.”

The score remained the same until midway through the third quarter.

Rocky Mountain threatened early in the second quarter. Less than two minutes into the second, the Grizzlies moved deep into Lingle territory, but the Dogger defense held on a 4th-and-4 play, forcing the turnover on downs.

It was the first of three turnover on downs LFL forced over the next quarter and a half.

The third came with 9:33 left in the third quarter and to Lingle’s lone offensive touchdown of the game.

The Doggers took over at the Grizzly 44-yard line and took less than three minutes before sophomore quarterback Brady Cook forced his way into the end zone after being hit a couple yards shy of the goal line. Arnusch extended the Dogger lead to 14-0 with the point after with 6:49 left in the quarter.

“(Cook) is starting to realize that if I lower my shoulder and run hard good things happen,” Gifford said. “He was able to use his eyes to get out of the pocket. We were having a hard time protecting. Credit to Brady for getting out of the pocket and going downhill.”

That’s when the momentum started to shift in the visitors’ favor.

A 45-yard pass resulted in a Rocky Mountain touchdown, but the Dogger defense held on the two-point conversion attempt.

On the ensuing Dogger possession, Rocky Mountain picked off a pass but was unable to do anything with the extra possession.

The teams traded possessions, and the Grizzlies faced a 4th-and-1 midway through the fourth. Going for it, they drew the Doggers offsides to keep their drive alive.

Less than two minutes later, Rocky Mountain punched in its second touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run. The Grizzlies added to the two points to tie the game at 14.

Sixteen seconds later, Lingle junior Louden Bremer picked up the Rocky Mountain kick at the 1-yard line. He the kick 99 yards to the end zone for what proved to be the final touchdown of the game.

“The kid is a winner,” Gifford said. “He finds ways to rally his teammates and finds ways to put the game on his back and make plays like that. You can’t coach that.”

On the final two Rocky Mountain possessions, they were forced to punt and turned the ball over downs, allowing LFL to go to a knee to secure the win.

Lingle tallied 139 yards of offense. The Doggers were led in rushing by sophomore Colt Brown with 38 yards. Cook was 7-of-9 passing for 83 yards.

Defensively, LFL gave up 251 yards of offense. The Doggers were led by Bremer with 10 unassisted tackles, while Brown had eight. Junior Cooper Smith led the team with two sacks.

The win moves the Doggers into the semifinals where they will host the Big Piney Punchers on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Kirk Field with the winner advancing to the championship game in Laramie.

“Big Piney is a good football team,” Gifford said. “They are very, very athletic. I would honestly say, they are very similar to us in a lot of ways. They have one really, really good athlete we are going to have to keep an eye on and keep contained.”

He added, the Punchers score on a lot of big plays.

“If we can prevent that, we have a great opportunity, and luckily, we get it at home,” Gifford said.

It will be only the second meeting between the two teams. The first came in 1959 when Big Piney defeated the Doggers 20-14 in the semifinal round of the Class B (8-Man) playoffs.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.