LARAMIE — Turns out Cody didn’t need to have the ball on offense to score touchdowns Friday. Remy Broussard returned an interception for a touchdown and Matt Nelson did him one better, with two pick-sixes, and the defending state champion Broncs pulled away for a 41-24 victory against Jackson in the Wyoming State High School Class 3A Championship at War Memorial Stadium.
“Sadler (Smith) is an extremely good quarterback, but I think our defense just came up with some huge plays,” Cody head coach Matt McFadden said. “Those pick-sixes were just crushing. It felt like our offense didn’t touch the ball in the second half.”
He’s not wrong. Jackson ran 33 plays to Cody’s four in the third quarter, but saw a 14-10 halftime deficit balloon to 28-10 thanks to Broussard and Nelson.
Nelson struck again on the fourth play of the fourth quarter. Jackson had the ball fourth-and-goal at the Cody 3, but the junior defensive back stepped in front of the intended receiver and took it 100 yards to the South end zone for a 35-10 lead.
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“I saw the formation and knew what route he was running and just jumped it,” Nelson explained.
He ran untouched down the field in front of the Jackson sideline before celebrating with his teammates in the end zone.
“I was gassed,” Nelson laughed. “I needed some oxygen.”
Nelson got his third pick on Jackson’s next drive and Cody (11-0) put the finishing touches on its first undefeated season with a 79-yard drive capped by Lucas Talich’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Drew Trotter.
Brody Hasenack added two late touchdown runs for Jackson (8-3), which was making its first appearance at War Memorial Stadium. The Broncs actually outgained Cody 581-281 in total yards and had almost a two-to-one advantage in time of possession, but they couldn’t overcome the back-to-back-to-back pick-sixes.
Jackson took a 10-7 lead with 2:16 remaining in the first half when Hasenack, who finished with 141 rushing yards, weaved his way through the Cody defense for a 29-yard TD.
Cody then put together its best scoring drive of the game. The Broncs went 80 yards in eight plays, with Talich connecting with Kellon George for a 24-yard touchdown with just 5 seconds remaining in the half.
“They had called a post to me,” George said. “The corner was pressing me from the inside and I knew I had to get inside. So I gave a little jab-step and I got inside and thought, ‘Oh, I’m open!’ I saw the ball coming and I knew I had to catch it. I secured it and got into the end zone and the rest is history.”
Talich felt the game changed with that drive.
“That was a huge momentum change,” he said. “All of the momentum was for us after that.”
Any doubts changed thanks to Broussard and Nelson.
Jackson appeared to be driving for the go-ahead score midway through the third quarter when disaster struck. Facing second-and-11 at the Cody 17, Smith fired a pass to the far sideline, but Broussard stepped in front of the intended receiver and returned it 89 yards to the end zone to extend Cody’s lead to 21-10.
Smith finished 28-of-50 for 349 yards and also rushed for 91 yards, but he and the Broncs (Jackson version) weren’t able to overcome the interceptions.
“We were still hungry at the half,” George said. “So Remy and Matt decided they wanted some in the second half.”
Cody 41, Jackson 24
CODY 41, JACKSON 24
Jackson 3 7 0 14 24
Cody 7 7 14 13 41
Jackson: Braden Hills 31 FG, 5:30
Cody: Kellon George 16 pass from Lucas Talich (Jackson Gail kick), 1:44
Jackson: Brody Hasenack 29 run (Hills kick), 2:16
Cody: George 24 pass from Talich (Gail kick), 0:11
Cody: Remy Broussard 89 interception return (Matt Nelson kick), 6:38
Cody: Nelson 59 interception return (Gail kick), 3:57
Cody: Nelson 100 interception return (Gail kick), 10:24
Cody: Drew Trotter 17 pass from Talich, 3:43
Jackson: Hasenack 1 run (Hills kick), 1:55
Jackson: Hasenack, 2 run (Hills kick), :09
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @wyovarsity