TORRINGTON – Clutch plays in crunch time on both offense and defense helped the Torrington Trailblazers pick up the win over Green River on Friday, 17-13, securing their spot the state championship game.
“Feeling wise, what I can describe is happy, excited and motivated,” defensive end Josh Kingsley said. “It’s been forever since we made it this far and I’m just hoping we can pull one off and take it all the way, coming out No. 1.”
Down 17-13, Green River took over possession on their own 15-yard line with 4:36 remaining in the game. The Wolves had a 1-yard run, an incompletion and a 3-yard pass, setting up a fourth-and-6. Kingsley, who had made a tackle a couple plays earlier, came up with a sack, forcing a turnover on downs.
“I was trying to make sure we got possession and the win. I was just hoping I could pull it off and I ended up helping out the team,” Kingsley said. “It wasn’t just me though. I just have to thank everybody else. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
Torrington took over the ball on the Green River 15 with 3:17 remaining. Bryan Lemmon and Josh Posten had back-to-back runs, totaling eight yards. Breyden Bivens took the game into his own hands on the next two plays, rushing for one yard on third down, forcing a fourth-and-1. Bivens called his own number again, diving right up the gut to get the first down. The Blazers kneeled twice to milk the clock away, sealing the win.
“The big thing was when you’re up by one score, you want to stay aggressive,” Lenhardt said. “Once we got the ball deep in their territory, we just wanted to win the game. We knew coming in that Green River was a very good team and it would probably come right down to it. It says a lot about the heart of our guys.”
Much of the scoring came in the first half. Green River went 3-and-out on their opening drive and Torrington marched down the field and ended the drive with a 30-yard field goal from Nathan Stitt. Green River took the ball 80 yards down the field on their next drive, ending with a 14-yard run, giving the Wolves the 7-3 lead.
Stitt quickly erased the Green River lead, taking the ensuing kickoff 95 yards back to the house, putting Torrington up 10-7. Both teams stalled out on their next drives, which ended in punts. Bo Moorehouse came up with an interception early in the second quarter to set Torrington up in Green River territory at the 31. Five plays later and Bivens connected with Dylan Waller on an 8-yard pass for a touchdown, giving the Blazers a 17-7 lead.
After a turnover on downs by Torrington to start the second half, Green River was in the midst of a six-play drive that took them into Blazer territory before Moorehouse came up with his second interception of the night.
“All week (the coaches) were telling me that I had to be in the right place at the right time and you have to make the plays,” Moorehouse said. “I just had to read my keys and trust that my coaches knew what they were doing and they did, so I thank them for that.”
The Blazer drive stalled, giving the Wolves the ball at their own 35-yard line. Twelve plays later, including a fake punt that went 19 yards, and Green River scored on a 1-yard run for six points. The point after try failed, settling the score at 17-13.
“We knew Green River was going to be a tough opponent. We knew they were one of the best teams in the state just like us,” Moorehouse said. “We just knew we had to play hard and they were going to play hard. We had to make the plays to give us the win.”
Torrington racked up 182 yards on the ground, led by Lemmon’s 125 yards on 20 carries. Posten chipped in 31 yards on seven carries and Moorehouse and Bivens combined for 18 yards.
Bivens was the signal caller for Torrington, going 7-for-16 for 72 yards. Dylan Waller was his top receiver, finishing the night with three receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown. Stitt had two catches for 18 yards, while Posten and Lemmon had a catch apiece totaling 19 yards.
Lemmon was a menace on defense, tallying nine tackles and a sack in the win, followed closely by Kingsley, who finished the night with eight tackles and a sack to his credit. Moorehouse’s two interceptions were Torrington’s only two forced turnovers on the night.
“Our defense really came through,” Kingsley said. “We’ve had our troubles in the past, yeah, but tonight we pulled it off and I don’t think we could have had any better of a game – not until next week.”
With the win, the Blazers are set to play in the 3A State Championship game Friday in Laramie. The kickoff at War Memorial Stadium is slated for 3 p.m. Cody (6-3) beat two-time defending state champion Star Valley on Friday, 31-21, to advance to the state title game from the other side of the bracket.
“Cody just flat out beat (Star Valley) and we are going to have our work cut out for us,” Lenhardt said. “I expect it to be a nip-and-tuck game like last week. Not because neither team can score, but because of the preparation that goes into the game.”
“It means so much to us. We have been working since most of us were in third grade in peewee football,” Moorehouse added. “We’ve all just been working for this one goal and now we are there and we are going to do whatever we can to execute and get a ring on our finger.”
The last time Torrington reached the championship game was in 1996, when they lost to Star Valley 35-0. It has been since 1990 that the Blazers have won the title, picking up a 20-6 win over the Braves.
“We’ve accomplished something that our previous teams have come close but fell short of,” Kingsley said. “It’s amazing honestly. There is no greater feeling in the world to do something this big with my family. To make it this far, it’s outrageous.”