RICH COUNTY – The Pinedale High School Wrangler football team’s defense shut down the Rich County High School Rebels as the away game in Randolph, Utah, drew to a close.
Pinedale took possession at its own 8-yard line, staring down 92 yards with less than a minute remaining on the clock.
Rich County led, 35-7. Rather than throw in the towel and simply run down the clock, the Pinedale offense chose to continue the battle right down to the last second in the final game of the season.
Senior quarterback Ethan Jensen sent the ball spiraling to senior Holden Saxton for an 18-yard pass play and a first down. Ethan Jensen completed a second pass to senior Sawyer Siefkes, moving the line of scrimmage up 6 yards.
Ethan Jensen held the ball on the next play and scrambled a first down. A pass to junior Owen McMillen ate up yards.
Junior Jake Hammer took the handoff, broke tackle and charged up the middle for a first down. Under pressure, Ethan Jensen completed a pass to senior Colby Bailey for a 30-yard gain.
Hammer stepped in briefly as quarterback and delivered a pass to senior Greyson Jervis. Jervis carried the ball to Rich County’s 20-yard line as the final buzzer sounded.
Head Coach David Thrash praised the Wranglers’ willingness to take a stand.
“These young men ended the season by playing really well together amidst all the adversity thrown their way with injuries,” he said. “Ethan Jensen put a change in the Wranglers’ favor with a pick. Great blocking on the edge from Siefkes built a strong run presence leading to a rushing touchdown from Ethan Jensen. Big defensive performances in the second half from several Wranglers held the score to 7-8 for the third and fourth quarters.”
The final showdown
Rich County scored a touchdown on its first possession in spite of tackles and coverage by Ethan Jensen, Saxton, Siefkes, Hammer and juniors Dustin Larsen and Doug Dexter. Bailey took down a Rebel for a loss.
Ethan Jensen and junior Bodie Jensen gained enough yards for first downs on Pinedale’s second drive in the first quarter.
Rich County scored three more touchdowns in the second quarter to take the lead, 27-0, at halftime.
The Wranglers turned up the heat in the second half. McMillen sent the kickoff deep into Rebel territory. Senior Tucker Watson and Siefkes tackled Rich County’s returner before he picked up significant yards. Hammer and Bodie Jensen swept in with a tackle in the backfield.
Ethan Jensen leapt up and picked off Rich County’s pass, setting the Pinedale offense up at its own 38-yard line.
Ethan Jensen plowed up the middle for a first down. Larsen chewed up several yards. Ethan Jensen completed a pass to Saxton for a first down.
Ethan Jensen rushed for 26 yards, reaching the Rebels’ 15-yard line.
Larsen and Ethan Jensen pushed the line of scrimmage up to the 5-yard line. Ethan Jensen faked a handoff, slipped through an opening and dashed up the left side of the field into the end zone for a Wrangler touchdown.
McMillen kicked the ball between the goal posts for an extra point.
Pinedale shut down Rich County’s second drive in the third quarter, including tackles by Siefkes, Dexter, Hammer, junior Dodge Normington, Bailey and Larsen.
Rich County fumbled and Dexter dove to recover the ball.
Rich County took possession as the fourth quarter opened. Dexter and Larsen made a sack in the backfield and Larsen tripped up Rich County’s runner. The Rebels fumbled again with Bodie Jensen making the recovery for Pinedale.
Rich County scored one more touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Pinedale defense answered back on the Rebels’ final drive with tackles by Dexter, senior Cade Covill, Jervis, Bailey and Hammer. Ethan Jensen pulled down the Rebel receiver, resulting in a turnover on downs.
Pinedale began its last drive at its own 8-yard line with less than a minute remaining. The Wrangler offense managed to advance to the 20-yard line in Rebel territory before the final buzzer sounded.
Coach Thrash expressed pride in the Wranglers for maintaining a fighting spirit and positive outlook through the season.
“This season brought many positives for the program and laid the way to a strong foundation for coming years,” he said. “I was constantly impressed and inspired by the no quit attitude and constant desire to improve these young men have. The seniors that came out this year have been a huge piece of that process and the leadership they showed demonstrated that they are going to be successful in the next chapter of their lives. I am very grateful to have won the position of head coach and cannot wait for the seasons to come.”