Rock Springs and Kelly Walsh exchanged big plays, penalties, turnovers and touchdowns Friday night at Harry Geldien Stadium.
In the end, it was Kelly Walsh seniors Trenton Walker and Dom Jahr who provided the winning play. Walker fired a strike to Jahr in the front corner of the end zone with 6 seconds remaining to give the Trojans a thrilling 24-20 victory.
The Tigers had taken a 20-17 lead on Brock Bider’s 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Isaac Schoenfeld in the middle of the field with 2:02 on the clock.
And that’s when Kelly Walsh put together its best drive in years. Starting at its own 21, Kelly Walsh methodically moved down the field on short passes to the sideline and Walker’s scrambling ability. Rock Springs appeared to have Walker dead to rights a couple of times behind the line of scrimmage, but he managed to elude the would-be tacklers and pick up yardage. His last run gave the Trojans a first down at the Rock Springs’ 15 with 11 seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, Walker dropped back and lofted a pass to the front corner of the end zone, where Jahr fought off a Rock Springs defender to gather in the touchdown and set off a celebration on the Kelly Walsh sidelines and in the stands.
The Trojans improved to 2-1 on the season heading into next week’s Oil Bowl against crosstown rival Natrona County.
Kelly Walsh put together an impressive opening drive, moving to the Rock Springs’ 13-yard line with a mix of runs and passes. On third-and-7, Trenton Walker connected with Cam Burkett for what looked like a first down at the Tigers’ 5. But a penalty moved the ball back to the 30 and two plays later Erich Hulshizer’s 43-yard field goal attempt was short.
After allowing one first down, the Trojans defense stiffened and forced a punt. Kelly Walsh senior Esaias Spillane fielded the ball at the KW 30, broke through an initial group of tacklers and got to the sidelines before being pushed out at the Rock Springs 39.
The Trojans moved the ball to the 25 before a sack of Walker and a short pass left Kelly Walsh with a third-and-18. That’s when Walker and Jahr gave fans a glimpse of what was to come, connecting on a 26-yard reception.
Two plays later, Burkett found the end zone from 5 yards out to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
Rock Springs nearly got the equalizer two possessions later when Bider sprinted untouched up the middle from 10 yards out. But a missed extra point left Kelly Walsh in front 7-6 with 1:53 remaining in the first half.
Not content to take a 1-point lead into the locker room, the Trojans drove 80 yards in nine plays, pushing their advantage to 10-6 on Hulshizer’s 27-yard field goal just before the half.
Rock Springs pulled ahead with 6:54 remaining in the third quarter when Bider followed his offensive line in from 1 yard out. This time Collin Madsen’s extra point was good to give the Tigers a 13-10 advantage.
The lead held until the first play of the fourth quarter.
Burkett broke through the middle and tight-roped down the sideline for a 42-yard score to push the Trojans back in front, 17-13.
“Burkett is a tough back and we had a hard time tackling him,” Rock Springs head coach Mark Lenhardt said in a postgame interview with the Rock Springs radio station. “We just had too many mistakes and too many penalties.”
The Trojans were in position to make it a two-possession game midway through the quarter when they drove to the Rock Springs’ 5 behind some strong running by Burkett. But on 2nd-and-goal Walker fumbled into the end zone, which set up the go-ahead score by the Tigers (1-2).
The game-winning score was a shot in the arm for Kelly Walsh and second-year head coach Aaron Makelky. And it continued the on-field success of the Walker-to-Jahr combination.
Walker found Jahr for a 53-yard scoring strike in the Trojans’ season-opening win over Cheyenne South and had a 78-yard touchdown connection in last week’s loss to Cheyenne Central. But none of those were as big as the one they pulled off Friday.
Rock Springs xx, Kelly Walsh xx
Rock Springs 0 6 7
Kelly Walsh 0 10 0
KW: Cam Burkett 5 run (Erich Hulshizer kick)
RS: Brock Bider 10 run (kick failed)
KW: Hulshizer 27 FG
RS: Bider 1 run (Collin Madsen kick)
KW: Burkett 42 run (Hulshizer kick)
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN
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