Southeast comeback falls short in loss to Wind River

Andrew Towne/Torrington Telegram Southeast senior Austin Short hauls in one of his three touchdown passes during Friday’s 46-38 loss to Wind River in the opening round of the Class 1A 9-Man playoffs.

YODER – Spotting Wind River a 16-0 lead, the Southeast High School football team’s comeback attempt in the closing minutes of the Friday’s Class 1A 9-Man playoff game came up short in a 46-38 loss to the Cougars.

The Cyclones came into the game knowing Wind River was going to run the ball a lot, and that’s exactly what the visiting Cougars did.

In fact, one player – Cooper Frederick – ran the ball 61 times for Wind River for 534 yards. Frederick accounted for all but 17 yards of the Wind River’s 551 yards of offense.

“We just didn’t have enough beef up front. Like I just told them, it doesn’t start when football starts next year. It starts in the weight room to get stronger,” coach Mark Bullington said. “We just got shoved around tonight. They were bigger, yeah, but they were stronger too.”

Frederick scored the first two touchdowns, giving the visitors a 16-0 lead with under two minutes to play in the first quarter.

Finally, with 51 seconds left in the opening quarter, Southeast sophomore quarterback Ayden Desmond hit Austin Short for a 61-yard touchdown.

After that, it became an offense shootout for the second quarter.

The next six offensive possessions – three by each team – ended in a touchdown.

Southeast got scores on a 68-yard quarterback keeper from Desmond, and Desmond also connected with Short two more times through the air.

The final score came courtesy of Wind River with five seconds left on the clock when Frederick punched in his fifth touchdown of the game.

After the Southeast defense turned away the Cougars on the two-point conversion, the Cyclones found themselves down only 38-30 at halftime.

Southeast got the ball to start the second half, but the drive lasted 1 minute, 4 seconds as Wind River held the Cyclones to a quick three-and-out.

Wind River countered with yet another rushing touchdown by Frederick. It also proved to be the final score of the game for the Cougars.

The Cyclones threatened late in the third quarter. A dropped pass in the end zone cost Southeast a touchdown. Ultimately, Southeast turned the ball over on downs at the Wind River 10-yard line.

“We dropped a touchdown pass, and we never scored on that series,” Bullington said. “We would have tied it up. They punted, what twice? Coming out after half and not moving the ball killed us. We had to score then, and we didn’t.”

Southeast’s defense forced Wind River to turn the ball over on downs with 7:37 left and forced the Cougars to punt with 2:49 left in the game.

With 1:32 left in the game, Matthew Chapman hauled in a 32-yard touchdown pass from Desmond to bring the Cyclones within eight.

The ensuing onside kick ended up in the hands of Wind River, and the Cougars were able to run out the remaining time to secure the win to advance to the semifinal round of the playoffs.

Desmond accounted for 380 yards of offense for the Cyclones – 91 rushing and 289 passing. Short was his top target with 125 yards on 10 receptions.

“They were so big, we couldn’t move them, so we had to throw the ball,” Bullington said. “We knew they had trouble covering the pass, and Des had a great game tonight. We did what we could do.”

Defensively, Desmond had 11 unassisted tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass break up and one interception, while junior Tiegen Thompson added seven unassisted tackles

The loss ends the Cyclone season with a 6-3 record.

“We were picked second to last in the conference and ended up second in the conference,” Bullington said. “We weren’t picked to be here. Our kids fought.”