The first play of the Saturday’s Shrine Bowl Game at Cheney Alumni Field was a 61-yard pass from South quarterback Dane Covington to Gage Pitt. South scored three plays later on a 9-yard Covington-Pitt connection.
Then the South stopped scoring.
“Yeah, we had to get our (expletive) together,” said North defensive end Lane Tucker, a Gillette grad. “But after that, we turned things around. We knew what we had to do and we did it.”
The North defense pitched a shutout from the first drive on, smothering the South for a 49-7 win.
“Man, you had some animals out there,” said North linebacker T.J. Abraham, a Powell grad. “You had (Tongue River linebacker) Brennan (Kutterer) just flying around and Tucker just eating people up. It was fun to see those type of kids and play with those type of kids. It was just a whole new animal, and it was fun.”
The North held the South to 166 total yards of offense, including just 29 rushing yards. The North recorded five sacks, seven pass breakups and an interception as well.
Kutterer was named the defensive MVP, recording 17 tackles, an interception and two pass breakups.
“Any group like this, in an all-star game like this, the hard part is coming together, trusting each other and playing together as a team,” Tucker said. “And in this week we bonded so well and obviously it showed today on the field.”
The North’s defense was an all-star squad in more than just name. Tucker is headed to North Dakota State on scholarship, Kutterer and Riverton defensive tackle Hunter Lee will walk-on at Wyoming, Abraham and Natrona County linebacker Tom Robitaille will play at Carroll College, and Kelly Walsh defensive lineman Tanner Bloom will play at Rocky Mountain College.
“It’s so awesome to (play with) all these guys,” Kutterer said. “We have a huge percentage of people going on to the next level to play different sports, basketball, football. It’s awesome. It’s truly the best of the best in Wyoming. That’s just an awesome feeling to know that you’re a part of that team. You’re a part of that collaboration of great players.”
At first, though, it looked like the North could be in for just its second loss since 2007, as the South marched down the field for its quick score.
“We knew that wasn’t us,” Kutterer said. “We had a fluke. That wasn’t our defense. We know what we practiced all season long. We know what we’re all about. So after that play, we got up and started going.”
Said Lee: “They must’ve come out thinking they had something going, and they got it going, and we learned from our mistakes, and we capitalized on it.”
And the talent took over.
“It’s like everyone’s in the right spot at the right time,” said Robitaille, who had five tackles, including one for a loss. “And I think I even got a little better, just being around the skill. Everyone’s big and tough and it was just a lot of fun.”
“It’s such a brotherhood,” said Lee, who also had five tackles and a tackle for loss. “You can’t beat brothers. We all came together, and we knew what was coming. We worked harder than anybody, and it paid off.”