Home opener ends in heartbreak

Nathan Oster

The first nine-man football game played on Greybull's home field was a thriller, with the Buffs and visiting Wind River trading blows until final seconds when a defensive stand sent the Cougars home with the 14-13 win.

The loss was Greybull's second straight to begin the season.

"It stings to lose by a point, but it was a much improved effort and a fun game," said Coach Eli Moody, whose team was coming off a listless performance in Moorcroft.  "We were right there this time, in a position to win it."

The Buffs scored the first points of the game, coming on a 3-yard pass from quarterback Cale Wright to receiver Aiden Reece.  The two had seemlessly switched positions during the week — Reece was the signal caller and Wright a pass catcher against the Wolves — and it paid off on the scoring play, which came on fourth down call.

"I don't think anyone from our sideline questioned whether we'd go for it (on fourth down)," said Moody.  "All last season and again last week, touchdowns had been hard for us to come by.  We needed one there."

With the extra point, the Buffs led 7-0.

It was short lived, however.  The Cougars put a drive together, capping it on a 2-yard plunge by #11, and with the conversion, led 8-7 after one.  Moody said it was a letdown to see his team give up the lead so quickly, but found in a review of the game film that "there were some very simple things we were doing wrong that allowed that drive to happen."

The Buffs regained the lead in the third on a 24-yard run by Irving Castro, but the PAT was blocked.

That turned out to be a crucial play because Wind River was trailing by just five when it regained possession midway through the fourth. One drive was all it needed.  A 24-yard touchdown run by Wind River's Landen Brownlee with just 3:32 to play punctuated it, giving the visitors a 14-13 lead.

The Buffs had one last change and began their final drive with good field position, at the Cougar 45.  A run by Castro, a short pass from Wright to Jesus Hernandez and a pass interference penalty moved the Buffs inside the 20-yard line.

But the drive stalled at the 15 when the Buffs failed to convert on a fourth-down pass attempt.

A field goal would have won it for the Buffs — and from there, it would have been about a 32 yarder.

"We'd had one PAT blocked and we felt that, at that point of the field, it was right at the limit of Jesus's range," said Moody, when asked about the decision to go for it.  "We felt more comfortable in our offense.  The play was there. It ended up not working.  If we'd have done a couple things better, we'd have at least gotten a first down."

The Buffs finished with 213 rushing yards, with Castro leading the way with 150 on 18 attempts, an average of 8.3 yards per rush.  Camryn Chapman gained another 30 on 15 attempts, as the Buffs averaged 5.6 yards per rush.

Through the air, Wright went 5-of-13 for 63 yards.   Moody said that with the exception of an interception on a throw into the end zone, Wright "had a great game at quarterback, making good decisions."

He also credited Reece for his play at receiver, emphasizing the switch "wasn't because he had a bad game (in Moorcroft), but rather because we decided as team we'd be better with Cale at quarterback and Reece at wide receiver, where he has better speed."

Moody said if his team had made a couple more plays, it would have won.  "The effort and energy and attitude was there — we just have to execute cleaner," he said.

Credit Jesus Hernandez, too, for keeping the Buffs close.  He had an otherworldly game on the defensive side, racking up 45 points on 11 assisted tackles, six solo stops, four tackles for loss, one sack and a blocked kick. 

The loss left the Buffs with an 0-1 conference record with key games remaining against Rocky Mountain, Shoshoni and Riverside, plus nonconference affairs with the Worland and Sheridan JVs and Lingle-Fort Laramie.

"We can still control our own destiny; the loss doesn't take us out of anything," he said.  "We can still do everything we want to accomplish in the games we have left.  The question is, will we hang our heads and pout? Or will we use it to motivate us to play better the rest of the season?  From what I'm hearing and seeing, I think they will bounce back."

Today's game in Sheridan against the Bronc JV was one of two added to the schedule when St. Stephens and Wyoming Indian cancelled their seasons due to COVID-19.  Kickoff is at 5 p.m. on the Sheridan's primary field.

"What I'm telling the kids is, we have to treat it like a varsity game ... and as a tool to get ready for those three remaining conference games," said Moody.


Wind River 8 0 0 6 — 14

Greybull 7 0 6 0 — 13

RUSHING — Greybull 39-213 (Castro 18-150, Camryn Chapman 9-30, Cale Wright 7-13, Isaak Gaytan 2-8, Jesus Hernandez 2-9, Jake Schlattmann 1-2);

PASSING — Greybull 5-of-14 for 63 yards.

RECEIVING — Aiden Reece 1-3, Jesus Hernandez 2-43, Camryn Chapman 1-10, Avery Swiftney 1-7.

DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS — Jesus Hernandez led the team effort with 45 points, followed by Avery Swiftney with 23, Camryn Chapman with 22, Jake Schlattmann with 20, Bryan Galvez with 15, Chase Oster with 14 and Isaac Thueson with 10.