RAWLINS – Maybe there was a reason it took until 21 seconds left in the first half of Friday’s game against Green River for Rawlins starting quarterback Quentin Romero to find Connor Mendez on a 3rd down slant in the end zone for the game’s first score.
This eventually helped spawn one defensively stout second half for Rawlins, which ultimately led to their 18-7 victory as well as their third consecutive victory – something that coach Clayton McSpadden considers a “team win.”
“We had some key players go out with either nicks and bruises or slight head injuries – things like that,” said McSpadden. “Kids that normally don’t get reps or don’t play stepped in and did the job to the best of their ability, and that’s how we were able to win.”
The Outlaws are now undefeated going into next week’s away bout against Cody, who’s now lossless after Friday's 28-14 win over Worland.
The Wolves, of course, punched an almost unsuspecting Rawlins defense in the mouth on the first play of the second half, however.
In their own zone, sophomore Green River quarterback Davis Wrage dropped back and tossed a deep ball to junior receiver Kolby Ivie, which was first tipped by Mendez before Ivie caught the fortuitous bounce and ran the ball in for what turned into a 67-yard touchdown pass.
But it didn’t take long for Rawlins to strike back.
“We knew as soon as it happened that it was just a falter,” McSpadden said of the Wolves' touchdown pass. “We should’ve been there to take it and it lit a fire under all the kids. They knew that we can’t relax, we can’t hangout, it’s not backyard football right now. We have to play and we have to be assignment sound.”
After Romero was sacked on 3rd and 9 the following possession by junior Green River lineman Thomas Harvey, the Wolves' next possession wouldn’t last long. Marking his first of the night, Mendez would nab a huge, game-changing interception deep in the secondary.
At the 9:45 mark of the third quarter, with good time Romero dropped back in the pocket and tossed a bomb downfield to senior receiver Kyson Robinson. This led to an amazing touchdown catch by Mendez.
“Our line did a great job. Just got a give it out to them, really,” Romero said. “Coach (Colton) Hilim… I want to give a big thanks to him. He works on me every day with my passes, so I really appreciate that. He also practices footwork with me every day, so that really helped out a lot.”
As far as Mendez’s catching abilities?
“Man, he can catch the ball, that’s for sure,” said Romero. “He can run a rock, you know?”
Facing a long third and goal later in the quarter, Romero again connected with Mendez, who in lagging double coverage beat Wolves defenders Jachob Fuss and Bryson Greymountain to haul in a highlight reel, toe-tap touchdown catch in the back of the end zone.
The Outlaws, however, would suffer their second blocked point after kick of the game, which elevated them to a tenuous 12-7 lead.
Coming up big on defense in the fourth quarter, Outlaws junior lineman Evann Trevathan split the O-line at the 7:52 mark to sack Wrage for a huge loss as well as a fumble that was recovered by the offense.
Facing a long way away from a first down, Wolves coach Marty Wrage gave his quarterback the nod to again go deep; however, Mendez would again step up in the secondary and nab his second interception of the game.
A couple clock-killing possessions later, this time senior starting running back Kadin Forney would wet his touchdown beak. Facing their third third and goal situation of the game, Forney bashed it in for a four-yard score.
And by the time Green River tried marching downfield during the next possession, Outlaws senior Kenny Raymond would intercept the ball to send the Wolves packing.
“On defense, we just held strong, man,” said McSpadden.
The 3-0 Outlaws play Cody 6 p.m. on Friday in Broncs territory.
“We have to get in film, we’ve got to study and we’ve got to get better,” McSpadden said. Cody’s a good team. We have to get better.”
Rawlins: Romero threw for 172 yards and two scores on 19 attempts. Forney rushed for 153 yards and one TD on 33 carries. Mendez caught for 120 yards and two scores on 10 catches. Robinson caught for 51 yards on one catch.
Green River: Davis Wrage threw for118 yards and one TD on four of 14 completions. Fuss threw for 99 yards on five of 10 completions. Ivie caught four passes for 187 yards.
Rawlins: Mendez amassed 34 tackles and two interceptions, senior Cody Newbrough 16 tackles and junior Allen Ferrales 15 tackles. In addition, Raymond had one interception.
Green River: Senior Payton Tucker collected 34 tackles, Harvey 17 and Fuss 16.