Nichols and Diming: Lovell’s Trench advantage propels them over Cokeville in battle of top 5’s
Right from the start of the big 2A battle Friday Night it became apparent what Cokeville was in store for as Lovell’s defensive line maintained firm control of the line of scrimmage against a seemingly overmatched Cokeville Offensive Line. This dominance of the line of scrimmage proved to derail Cokeville’s opening possession with ended with a 4th down stop on a short yardage situation.
Lovell switched things up offensively coming out early with 3 consecutive passes to start the game from a usually run-heavy team but it worked after the 1st 2 hit the grass, the 3rd pass was a screen on 3rd and 10 to Ben Nichols which resulted in a 64 yard touchdown as Cokeville’s aggressive defensive pursuit into the backfield backfired against them.
Lovell would capitalize on Cokeville’s defensive pursuit again on their 2nd drive of the game as well when Cokeville forced the Bulldog offense into 4th and 15 from the Cokeville 26, which Lovell would turn into a 26 yard touchdown with a delayed draw play again to Ben Nichols who was essentially untouched as Cokeville’s front 7 ran right passed him in pursuit of the QB and were fooled by the well-designed play.
From there, Lovell’s offense began to use a more conventional approach to offense as they nursed their early 13-0 lead, putting together drive after drive with a combination of power rushing (an off tackle run in which the backside guard pulls to the play side) and efficient passing from Davin Crosby who tossed a number of absolute dimes down the field when he was needed.
Cokeville did have some positives coming out of this game, namely running back Jack Dayton continued to show the same explosion we saw last week out of him and may be a player to watch on a weekly basis in 2A. It was Dayton who put Cokeville’s lone touchdown on the board in the 3rd quarter which cut the Lovell lead to 13-7 at the time and seemed to swing momentum on the Panthers side at the time.
The momentum didn’t stay with the Panthers for long however as the ensuing kickoff was returned 88 yards for a Bulldog touchdown by Junior playmaker Jared Mangus. You could nearly feel the air escaping the Cokeville sideline.
Lovell put the game on ice in the 4th quarter with a Crosby QB sneak that ended in the end zone and gave the Bulldogs the 27-7 lead which they would not relinquish. The key to the play was the same as the key to the game as a whole, the Lovell offensive line simply overpowering the smaller school’s front 7.
Positive note number 2 for Cokeville here is that is of course very early in the season and there is plenty of time to come up with adjustments should these teams meet again in the postseason. One of the bigger adjustments was already made at halftime for the Panthers and seemed to give their offense some added juice they simply lacked in the 1st and that was steering away from the option game.
Lovell’s defense was very clearly playing a well disciplined game and weren’t falling for any of Cokeville’s fakes or dedicating too many defenders to any singular player in the option game nor missing tackles. This left Cokeville’s option offense next to useless for much of the 1st half, so they came out of the locker room with a new approach, just give the ball to your playmakers and run right at them.
The new offensive approach was vastly more effective, Jack Dayton was held to just 16 yards at the half, but ended the game with 88 and a score. Lovell’s defense was simply too disciplined to be fooled by the option and Cokeville did a good job adjusting but unfortunately a 13-0 hole and a kickoff returned against them was too much to overcome.
Take the kickoff return out and from an offense vs offense perspective the 2nd half was a 7-7 tie for Cokeville if the Panthers fans are searching for a 3rd silver lining in this. As it stands though, the final result was a 27-7 victory for the top ranked team in 2A who have another tough matchup next week as they travel to 2nd ranked Lyman. The Panthers will have their home opener next week vs Pinedale.