YODER – With 49 seconds left to play, the Southeast High School football team was backed up on their own 40 and facing fourth down, with 12 yards to go, and trailing 24-19.
The lead had already changed three times in the fourth quarter. Niobrara County High School scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass – its only completion of the game – with 2:13 left on the clock to take the lead. The Tigers had a full head of steam after the score.
The Cyclones picked up a few yards and first down, but a busted play led them to their current predicament – trailing, with less than a minute left to play, facing the fourth-ranked team in 1A 11-man football, according to Wyopreps.com. After an 0-8 season in 2018, it wasn’t a new situation for Southeast.
But this isn’t 2018, and these Cyclones weren’t rolling over.
Junior quarterback Hayden Anderson took the snap, and fired a bullet to junior tight end Bodie Herring, well short of the line-of-gain. The Tigers pounced on Herring, but he kept his footing just long enough to dish out a perfect pitch to junior speedster Ryan Clapper on a designed hook-and-ladder play. He hit Clapper at full speed – and that’s when coach Mark Bullington knew the Cyclones were going to score.
“Ryan was going full speed, and I knew if he was going full speed when he caught it nobody was going to catch him,” Bullington said.
No one did.
Clapper went untouched for 53 yards after taking the pitch, and the Cyclones (3-1) earned a 26-24 homecoming win Friday night at Teeters Memorial Field – their first home win since 2017.
“It feels amazing, to come back from 0-8 last year to get two upsets in a row,” Anderson said.
“We’re 3-1 with two upsets. That sets us up for the rest of the season,” Herring said.
Southeast’s third win in a row came in a back-and-forth battle that featured five lead changes. The Cyclones trailed 18-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but Anderson found senior Greg Logsdon for a 59-yard touchdown strike that narrowed the margin to 18-13 with 11:18 left to play. On Southeast’s next possession, the Cylones took the lead after Anderson connected with junior Brant Fullmer for a 50-yard touchdown that gave Southeast a 19-18 advantage, their first lead since the first quarter.
The Tigers answered to take the lead with 2:13 left to play, and that’s when Anderson found Herring, and Herring found Clapper – who only had one thought in his head when took the pitch.
“Run and don’t get caught,” Clapper said. “I’m so happy for the team. We haven’t won at home in a while. We just had to keep our heads up. There were some times when we wanted to put our heads down. We didn’t and thank God for that.”
Anderson finished the game with seven completions on 15 attempts, 147 yards and two touchdowns. Clapper was the leading rushers with 75 yards on eight carries and a touchdown. Sophomore Cord Herring ran for 75 yards on six carries and scored a first quarter touchdown.
Logsdon was Anderson’s favorite target, as he hauled in three catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Fullmer caught two passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Bodie Herring caught two passes for 23 yards.
Harrison Hall led the Southeast defense with 11 tackles.
Bullington said his team showed a lot of fight in the win. The Cylones will travel to Dayton to take on Tongue River High School next Friday, and Bullington said it’s the first time in a long time his team will be taking the field with momentum on its side.
“We haven’t gotten to do our Cyclone jump celebration at home for many, many games,” he said. “This is a huge game for us because they beat up on Tongue River. If we go up and get Tongue River, and then we have Wright. I think we’re kind of in the same place that Pine Bluffs High School was a few years ago before they made their (state championship) run. They were just so-so, and they beat us up here, and then they got on a roll and they won that thing.
“We’ve got a lot of fight. Our defense played really well tonight. We got two guys hurt and that didn’t help us. People stepped up. I was really impressed.”