Brett Brenton lined up in the Natrona County backfield on Friday night opposite the Cheyenne Central defense a different player than the last time the teams met.
Natrona County opened its season last year against Cheyenne Central and, after a 55-minute lightning delay, the game ended in a 5-0 loss for the Mustangs. In his first varsity game Brenton and the young Mustangs accounted for just 84 total yards.
So when he touched the ball for the first time against the Indians this year, he wanted to show how far the Mustangs have come since then.
Brenton scored on a 96-yard run on Natrona County’s first play from scrimmage and things just snowballed from there. A fourth-quarter running clock helped close the chapter on the 63-20 Mustangs victory at Central’s Riske Field.
Brenton followed his opening carry with a 24-yard scoring scamper to give the Mustangs a 14-0 lead. He finished with 278 yards with those two scores on just 13 carries.
“Brett made a nice cut, had a good hole, good cutback and a real nice run,” Natrona County head coach Steve Harshman said after the game.
Quarterback Jesse Harshman started slow and was pressured by the Cheyenne Central defense early on. His first three throws were not within reaching distance of his intended receivers.
“They certainly were playing straight man and bringing the pressure,” the Mustang head coach said. “That’s sometimes a risky proposition. They can get to the quarterback, but sometimes when you don’t then we made the big play.”
The senior settled in and finished 6-of-11 for 163 yards and four touchdowns. Harshman now leads Class 4A with 19 passing touchdowns on the season. Two of his scoring throws were to Ben Acres while a 59-yard toss went to Maeson Gallegos and a 1-yard pass was caught by Cross True to start the second half.
By that point it was 43-7 and Riley Shepperson hadn’t even converted a fourth-and-36 by running a planned punt 55 yards into the end zone yet.
The Mustangs offense amassed 517 total yards on Friday night.
On the flip side, the defense played high risk, high reward. Instead of trying to lock down Central’s multiple weapons, the Mustangs elected to contain the run and pressure passes at their source.
Central quarterback Dawson Macleary was sacked nine times for negative-59 yards. The run defense held Adarius Gallon in check. Niko Bostic did have six catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns, but most of those yards came in the first quarter when Central couldn’t capitalize on field position.
One of Bostic’s three 30-plus yard catches came on the Tribe’s second series that put Central inside the 10. But an interception by Seth Cisneros in the end zone put a stop to the promising drive.
“They hit us on a couple of passes early on the first few series,” Steve Harshman said. “They got us over the top but then we regrouped. Run game, same thing. They made some plays on us but the key was not breaking.”
Natrona County closes out the regular season next week by hosting Rock Springs. The win over Central guaranteed the Mustangs a home game in the quarterfinals.
Cheyenne Central will host rival Cheyenne South in their regular season finale with the winner earning the No. 8 seed in the quarterfinals.