Eagles Defense Plays Like Defending Champs, Sends Panthers To Tongue River Next Week
The Panthers had a golden opportunity to secure the #2 seed in the 2a West this Friday which would guarantee them at least 1 home playoff game next week but they would have to contend with the reigning State Champion Lyman Eagles who would prove to be too overwhelming defensively on this day. Cokeville and Lyman came into the game as the #1 and #2 ranked rushing offenses in all of 2a Wyoming but the story of this game was the 2 defenses that showed up determined to shut them down.
As expected this game FLEW by as both offenses ran the ball like they had been teleported in from 1925 as they both attempted to play to what they believed was their own strengths and with very few first downs, turnovers, or incomplete passes the game lasted only 2 hours. In those 2 hours the Panthers managed just 35 plays for a grand total of 102 total yards and until the final drive of the game the Panthers had only 2 total first downs all day (and they fumbled the ball after getting 1 of those). It was a standout performance from the Lyman defense which has been so critical for them this year as they have tried to carry the team with the loss of the offense’s best player from last year in QB Ashton Housekeeper.
While the Eagles defense was suffocating as a whole, allowing just under 3 yards per play to the Panthers, that stat would have likely been even more ridiculous had it not been for the final drive where Cokeville decided to go to the air and discovered that Landon Walker could dice through the Lyman secondary, completing 50% of his passes for 65 yards and the Panthers lone touchdown of the day. On the ground the Eagles defense looked like the 1985 Chicago Bears had suddenly taken the field, not 1 single Panthers rusher would reach 20 yards on the day, as a team they only managed 37 yards on 25 rush attempts. An absolutely insanely stout defensive game from the Eagles in this game with home field advantage in round 1 on the line.
The game was 2-0 at the half with the only points coming on a safety when Cokeville came off a 4th down stop at their own 6 and were promptly sacked a few plays later attempting a play-action pass and that was almost the most poetic stat from the game, shame that the offenses would have to score in the 2nd half and ruin the fun (16-6 would be the final). For the Eagles Carter Bradshaw would end up being the offensive top performer eclipsing 100 yards and while McKoy Smith scored both TD’s, they were set up by rushes from the Eagles young QB. While Bradshaw’s average wasn’t quite as high as his season average, totaling 103 yards on 27 carries for 3.8 a pop, well below his average of 5.5 for the year, his consistency and ability to keep grinding all game long and keep his legs moving for critical short yardage runs were exactly what were needed in a game like this one.
The Panthers defense played one of their greatest games of the year, a truly championship level performance from that side of the ball but on this day the Eagles defense was on a completely different level and it was enough to clinch the #2 seed in the west in this year’s postseason. This however has given the Panthers plenty of film to go over and will surely show them some incredibly helpful things as they will head to Tongue River for round 1. The best way to sharpen iron is with iron, and the Panthers have battled the toughest iron around this season and come away with some hard fought clashes that ended in defeats in the first bought with both members of last years state championship game… That’s the biggest positive that came out of this though for Cokeville, the first bought was a learning experience but no-one will care who won the first bought if you can take the rematch and Cokeville’s season still has breathe in it’s lungs. Both Lovell and Lyman lurk in the tournament should the Panthers escape Tongue River next week, you can catch that contest on SVI3 for video coverage and radio coverage on The Wave, no time has yet been announced for the game but once it is known SVI will be sure to update our listeners and readers throughout the week.