RAWLINS — That sort of anxious, too-close-to-watch feeling crept right in at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Senior Outlaws running back Kadin Forney, who eventually eclipsed 200 yards on the ground during Friday night’s 34-20 loss to Douglas, bashed it in with 11:57 to play, marking his second and final touchdown of the game.
“(Forney) gives us the numbers we need,” Clayton McSpadden, Rawlins head coach, said on Monday. “He establishes the run game following our O-line, which we had a second-string lineman in there. And he still has a way of making us look good.”
Following Forney’s score, to make up for a couple Rawlins’ special teams’ PAT mishaps in the first half, senior quarterback Quentin Romero connected with junior Allen Ferrales for the two-point conversion.
Now tied at 20 apiece, the Outlaws were poised to stage a comeback, especially their defense.
The next possession, senior Outlaws linebacker Kenny Raymond came up big, tackling Bearcats senior Blake Travnicek for not only a substantial loss, but what essentially prodded Douglas into soon punting.
For Romero, however, who’d been connecting all night with go-to receiver Connor Mendez, as well as senior Cody Newbrough for a first-quarter score, he was his own worst enemy Friday night.
The quarter before, Romero was picked off by Bearcats senior Sutton Perry. And with 7:08 left in the game, Perry’s secondary intuition once again paid off as he recorded his second interception on Romero.
This play ultimately led to Rawlins’ loss. A few downs later, Travnicek capitalized with a TD run with 4:31 left to play, which later placed the Bearcats up 27-20 following a good point after kick.
In desperation mode, on their next possession Romero completed a 20-yard pass to Mendez, placing the Outlaws near the 50-yard line. But, facing a couple gigantic Douglas linemen, Romero was sacked by junior Kody Micke and senior Cody Pinkerton as he dropped back to pass.
“Their lineman did a good job a getting our quarterback,” McSpadden said. “They did a good job of changing it up on us, so we weren’t always getting three or four seconds. And they did a good job of guarding the deep ball. I mean we like to throw that deep ball – sometimes more than we should.”
The Outlaws finally turned their last chance to tie over on downs, leading to another Bearcats’ touchdown late in the game.
But Rawlins’ offense just could not be fully derailed no matter how much Jay Rhoades, the same longtime Douglas head coach who once guided the Bearcats to a 4A state title game in 2006, wanted it.
Rhoades explained this to the radio during a post-game interview.
“They’re a good football team. They’re a scary football team,” he said of Rawlins. “They can beat anybody on any given day.”
Had it not been for two rushing touchdowns by Bearcats junior Gabe Borman, as well as a touchdown throw from quarterback AJ Yeaman to Perry in the first half, the Outlaws’ woes would’ve washed away a lot easier.
Following a textbook, 38-yard touchdown catch by senior Cody Newbrough, who blew by the Douglas secondary near the sidelines early in the first quarter, Rawlins’ aerial attack seemed well on its way to another notable night.
Romero, Newbrough and Mendez, who’s been plucking highlight reel catches all season, were intent on picking up where they left off from earlier this season. To conclude the Outlaws’ loss to Cody last week, Newbrough ended with a whopping 129 yards on three receptions, while Mendez recorded 148 receiving yards against Evanston.
And to end Friday night, Romero, despite throwing two picks, completed 9 of 15 passes for 137 yards and 1 touchdown. Not bad for a day’s work.
Douglas, however, did just enough to shut the Outlaws down late in the game.
“We came up with plays when we needed to,” Rhoades said. “Sutton – two big interceptions… Big stops at different times to get us the ball.”
McSpadden was asked how his team treats the loss to the Bearcats.
“I thought Cody was a bit humbling for ‘em, but I think (the loss to Douglas) might have been more humbling for them in the fact that we have a lot to do – we need to believe,” he said. “That’s our biggest problem, is believing that we can hang – it’s because we can, we have all the ability in the world.”
“Sometimes kids will not trust what the coaches are doing and they’ll go rogue and think that they have the right calls or plays,” McSpadden added.
There are four games left in the regular season, and if the now 3-1 Outlaws intend on gaining home field advantage in the postseason, they’ll have to win every one of those matchups.
It all starts with a winless Worland team on Friday night in Worland.
Offense: Romero threw for 137 yards and 1 TD on 15 attempts. Forney ran for 203 and two TDs on 24 carries. Mendez caught for 80 yards on 6 receptions. Newbrough caught for 38 yards and 1 TD on 1 reception.
Defense: Mendez had 32 tackles and 1 interception. Forney yielded 18 tackles, while Trevathan had 16, with 1 QB sack. Colton Ice also recorded 1sack.
Offense: Yeaman threw for 126 yards on 7 of 17 completions. Borman ran for 45 yards and 3 touchdowns on 5 rushes. Blake Travnicek ran for 129 yards and 1 TD on 16 rushes.
Defense: Borman had 16 tackles, while Jake Halquist had 14 and KobyCcase 12. Cody Pinkerton had 1 sack, while Perry recorded 2 interceptions.