Blazer football opens season with shutout loss
TORRINGTON – A fumble deep in Torrington territory late in the first quarter set up Gering’s first score of the game 49 seconds into the second quarter.
The end result was a 20-0 loss at the hands of the Bulldogs in Torrington’s season-opener at Wiseman Field.
The first quarter saw the teams combine to punt five times.
“(Bryce Hager and Brayden Frazier) were able to get key sacks and tackles for losses, but it really helps when we have (Ty) Bennick and (Trey) Parriott in front of those guys demanding doubles or even triple teams,” coach Russell Stienmetz said. “If those offensively linemen are working on our interior lineman, our linebackers and D-ends are getting home for those plays.”
In the final minute of the opening quarter, Gering had Torrington pinned deep at the Blazer 27-yard line when Gering took advantage of a botched handoff, recovering a fumble on the final play of the opening quarter.
“We gave them such a short field after we bobbled some handoffs in the backfield,” coach Russell Stienmetz said. “You can’t give a good team a short field. They will capitalize.”
Two plays later Gering connected on an 11-yard pass to go in front 7-0.
It was the start of a 17-point quarter for the visitors from Nebraska.
On the ensuing possession, Torrington was forced to punt.
“There were times where we just couldn’t get off the field defensively, or if we would, we’d give them a couple extra series and they would pin us deep,” Stienmetz said.
The Blazer defense had Gering in a 3rd-and-long situation, looking to force another punt, but instead, the Bulldogs picked up the first to keep the drive alive.
“You get a team behind on the sticks and then give up a play, allowing the quarterback to scramble or whatever, they were able to pick up key first downs,” Stienmetz said. “We need to get the defense off the field and give our offense time to be on the field.”
With 4:41 left before halftime, Gering pushed its lead to 14-0.
Torrington was forced to punt again on the ensuing drive, but a bad snap over the punters head gave the visitors the ball at the THS 22-yard line. Gering connected on a 34-yard field at the end of the half to head to the locker room up 17-0.
The third quarter was a repeat of the first – back-and-forth.
Late in the third and into the fourth, Torrington started moving the ball, but the drive stalled at the Gering 24-yard line when the Blazers turned the ball over downs.
On the ensuing defensive stand, with 10:43 left in the final quarter, sophomore Landre Greiman picked off a Gering pass at the THS 7-yard line.
However, Torrington when 3-and-out giving the ball right back to the Bulldogs.
The trading of possessions until Torrington turned the ball over for the second time in the game with an interception with 6:21 left in the game.
Gering was able to convert the turnover into three more points with two minutes left in the game.
Stienmetz said the offense has to do a better job of establishing the run game moving forward to before more effective.
“We could not run the ball against Gering’s defensive front. Then there linebackers and secondary guys are flying in and making tackles when we did get past that first level,” he said. “We have to go back to our fundamentals and our offensive linemen need to stay on track.”
Stienmetz added a successful running game will open up the passing attack.
“It’s tough to win in Wyoming when you are throwing the ball almost 30 times as did,” he said. “You are going to have game or games in inclimate weather. So, you have to run the ball and stay on our tracks offensively.”
Offensively, Hager rushed the ball eight times for 36 yards, while Kaiden Riggs added seven attempts for six yards. Hager was also 14-of-29 passing for 174 yards. His top target was Graysen Shields who caught eight passes for 125 yards.
Defensively, Hager tallied 16 defensive points with three unassisted tackles and five tackles for loss. Nathaniel Stull also had 16 points firth seven unassisted tackles.
Torrington heads to Mitchell, Nebraska on Friday evening for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
“They are anchored by a quarterback who runs the ball and gets that whole offense going. We are going to have to hem him in and tackle and rally the ball,” Stienmetz said. “There were times we did stop Gering defensively when they ran the ball. We need to take some of those attributes and take them into this Friday. We just have to tackle the ball.”