Thunderbirds Hold Off NC For 4A Title [VIDEO]
Cheyenne East scored 14 in the first half and held off Natrona to win the state 4A title.
The final game of this championship weekend showcased the Mustangs of Natrona trying to avenge for a 3 overtime loss to the East Thunderbirds back in Week One of the regular season.
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The T-Birds would get the ball first and on the opening possession put together a 10 play 80 yard drive aided by a NC penalty along the way. The touchdown would come on a Tevis Bartlett one yard run at the 7:00 minute mark in the first to give East a quick 7-0 lead. Natrona would answer right back with a 6 play 75 yard drive of their own that ended on a 49 yard pass from Sam Turner to Logan Wilson and with 3:03 left in the first quarter it was a 7-7 football game.
Natrona would then get a stop on defense and put together another long drive, but this time it was the T-Birds with the costly penalty as they stopped the Mustangs on 3rd and long but in doing so they committed a personal foul by pushing Stevann Brown to the turf after he was already out of bounds. The drive went all the way to the Thunderbird 2 before having to settle for a 19 yard Logan Wilson field goal giving the Mustangs their first lead of the game at 10-7. Like a couple of heavy weight fighters going at it the T-Birds punched right back with a 9 play 80 yard drive set up by a 48 yard pass play from Bartlett to Cameron Johnson on 3rd and ten that got the ball all way down to the Mustang one, Bartlett would sneak it in from there giving East a 14-10 halftime lead. East would have the ball out of the locker room but would turn it over on downs at the NC 36.
Natrona would travel 45 yards in 11 plays and actually get inside the T-Bird 10 yard before a couple of penalties backed them up and forced a 36 yard field goal attempt from Logan Wilson that was good pulling the Mustangs within one at 14-13 with 3:30 left in the 3rd Quarter. That Logan Wilson field goal would be the last point scored in the football game but not to worry there was still plenty of drama left to unfold in this one. It started with a long 57 yard kick off return by Clinton Jaure that was for not because the very next play would see Josh Harshman intercept a Bartlett pass. East would quickly get the ball back after a Logan Wilson fumble was scooped up by Ben Wisdorf.
Three plays later Bartlett would be picked off again this time by Logan Wilson as he would atone for his previous fumble. The teams would exchange punts until Natrona was able to sustain a drive that went 11 plays and 42 yards but ended with a missed 36 yard field goal by Logan Wilson with 1:18 left in the game. All the T-Birds had to do was run out the clock from there right? Wrong on 3rd and 2 Bartlett runs it to his right and while stretching for the first down lost the handle and Natrona would recover at the East 30 yard line. But the final break would go the way of the T-Birds on a 3rd and 10 Ben Wisdorf snared a Sam Turner pass giving East the ball and the championship.
We saw him during the soccer season...looks like he found a way to top himself. Rock on man!
East vs. Natrona in the 4A State Championship Game...first quarter...East wearing the black and on the move early...Tevis Bartlett...here he goes again...he's not afraid to do it himself...a 34 yard pickup past midfield...that was just the second play from scrimmage...might be a sign of things to come.
Later...the junior would mix it up...this time he wants to throw...Brian Lopez on the receiving end, and it was the defender on the receiving end of that collision...the Thunderbirds are in the red zone and wanted to strike early.
This was a 10 play 80 yard drive...and Bartlett would get the finish...he is a 2-time national champion wrestler as well...that means he's hard to bring down. East draws first blood, up 7-to-nothing.
Natrona would respond...it's the last leg of their revenge tour...Sam Turner over the middle to Logan Wilson...the junior slips 3 tacklers...stiff arms another...and now it's just a foot race to the end zone. He would find a way to stay on his feet and he's in from 49 yards. Turner was 16 of 28 passing for 172 yards...and this game is tied at 7.
Then the Mustang defense realized what they had to do...once they knew Bartlett was going to do something...they would gang up on him...Lane Hunsicker got to him first and Brad Gillis would help finish the job...a pretty good game so far, and we're still dead-locked at 7, after the first 12 minutes.
Second Quarter...NC drove down to the 2...but got no closer...Wilson is on for a 19-yard field goal try...the ball was almost too fast for the camera to follow...it's good...and the defending state champs would take the lead, 10-to-7.
Then the see-saw would swing the other way...Bartlett had a pretty good passing game himself...7 of 17 for 107 yards...including this roll out to Cameron Johnson who would take it deep into Natrona territory...down to the 1...and they had plenty of time to punch the ball in.
...but they wasted none...for on the next play...Bartlett would force his way in...it was the second effort that did it...that would give the boys in black a 14-to-10 advantage...going into the locker room.
3rd quarter...Wilson is back for another field goal try...36 yards and he had more than enough distance...the Mustangs were breathing down their opponents neck, trailing 14-to-13 at this point.
Time for some defense...they would force Bartlett to throw a number of times...Josh Harshman read that one right and intercepts it...he was kicking himself a little bit because he lost his balance on the return...but he did his job on that play.
However...the turnover bug was biting both sides...Turner will complete the pass to Wilson...who then gets stripped by Bartlett...Ben Wisdorf made the recovery...and he had a big play late in this game...it's East ball.
However...this possession did not last long...Bartlett tried going deep, but he made a mistake and found Wilson instead who redeemed himself from the earlier fumble...Natrona will still down 14-13...going into the final 12 minutes of the season.
4th quarter...plenty of time...Wilson is back for a 45 yard attempt...he had to go left and he went too far...no worries...NC just had to get the ball back.
They did...and with 1 1/2 minutes to go...the junior got another chance...this is from 36 yards....it was close and he missed left again...many could not believe it.
Now if you were behind the goal post...like we were...here's the slow mo...after the game Coach Steve Harshman had an interesting point...this is a college goal post...a high school goal post is 5 feet wider...if that was the case, this might have been good.
All the Thunderbirds had to do now was get 1 first down...something that they had yet to do, the entire second half...Bartlett went for it, but when he tried to reach...he fumbled....Hunsicker would recover at the East 30...with 1 minute to go...Natrona has new life.
3 plays later...the Mustangs need to get a little bit closer...Turner rolls out...sees a man...but the pass was under-thrown...Wisdorf with a championship saving interception. No overtime in this go around.
East scored all of their points in the first half...did not get 1 first down in the second half...and their bend but don't break defense, made enough of the right plays to win it...final score, 14-13...the Thunderbirds win their 4th state title...and finish the season, with a record of 10-and-2.