YODER – Southeast lost its home opener against Wind River on Friday 8-6.
The defensive tone was set on the first drive when the Cyclones forced a turnover on downs at the Cougars 44.
Southeast seemed to have things clicking early offensively when senior running back Ryan Clapper busted up the field for 19 yards on the first play. Wind River’s defense stood strong just outside the red zone, however, and ended the drive with an interception by senior Chaumbrey Romero.
The Cyclones struggles to move the ball up the field extended throughout the game. Southeast head coach Mark Bullington said the team had limited chances on offense.
“We [couldn’t] move the ball and we played defense all night,” Bullington said.
The Cougars, on the other hand, saw some success offensively with 336 total yards which almost doubled Southeast’s 183.
The home squad made the stops when it mattered by fending off several red zone pushes from the Cougars. One of the Cyclones biggest plays in the first half came early in the second quarter on a fourth and four situation on their own seven-yard line when senior Cord Herring made a diving interception. It was one of the many stops Southeast made to keep the Cougars off the board for most of the game.
After the game, Bullington praised his defense for their efforts.
“They played their hearts out,” Bullington said.
The Cyclones managed to put up the first points in the game on the second play of the third quarter. Clapper broke through the stiff Cougar defense for a 56-yard touchdown. Clapper ended the night with only 75 yards on 14 carries.
After a missed field goal kick, Wind River pushed the ball 64 yards down the field including a 38-yard run from Sophomore running back Cooper Frederick before ending the drive on the two-yard line thanks to a tackle by Herring. The senior had 13 1/2 tackles in the game along with 10 tackles from fellow senior Kirk Kay.
The Cyclones had another chance to shut down an opportunity from the Cougars on fourth and 10 to end the quarter, but Wind River senior Jaden Miller picked up 13 yards to extend the drive.
Junior Brayden Leonhardt broke out to the right side on the first play of the fourth for a 29-yard touchdown to tie the game and added two more points with a reception on a rollout pass to the right from Frederick.
On the next drive, the Cyclones looked to be going three-and-out on fourth and 15, but Herring faked a punt and was stopped a yard short of the first down.
Wind River chewed the clock for seven minutes as they pushed the ball back into Cyclones territory. On third and nine, Herring stopped junior Jaycee Herbert just short of the first down but was tagged with a 15-yard facemask penalty. Junior Austin Short made up for it later in the drive with a tackle on fourth down to force a turnover on the Cyclones 5.
With 95 yards to go and 2:51 left in the game, Southeast turned to the air game which provided significant gains up the field. senior quarterback Grant Logsdon found Short for 29 yards before erasing most of the progress on a chop block penalty. Logsdon hit Short again for 25 more yards. The Cyclones failed to move forward and even allowed a sack on the way to a turnover on downs.
The Cougars ran out the clock to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Bullington said the lack of offense in the game made for a tough loss.
“It’s just frustrating to lose one like that,” Bullington said.
Southeast dropped to 1-2 and will host Pine Bluffs (3-0) on Friday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.