Rocky takes down Wranglers in 24-7 win

Ryan Fitzmaurice

Head coach Jessee Wilson asked for physical play from the Rocky Mountain Grizz last Saturday against Shoshoni and he got it.

The Grizz took off for 178 yards on the ground against the Wranglers while only allowing for 11 rushing yards on the other side of the ball while the defense came together to record seven tackles for losses and four sacks in the 24-7 victory.

The victory gives the Grizz a 2-1 record on the season. 

“Coach (Kade) Ames did a good job getting our guys prepared by what we like to do,” Wilson said. “Brenner Moore was an absolute monster. Whenever you have a defensive tackle get 19 defensive points, you know you’re winning that battle up front. That’s what I wanted us to do was dominate the line of scrimmage.”

Moore was responsible for four of those tackles for a loss, also recording a sack, two assisted tackles and five unassisted tackles. 

The Grizz started the game off on the right foot. After stopping Shoshoni cold on their first offensive series, running back Wil Loyning and quarterback Lafe Files combined for a rushing attack that drove Rocky over 50 yards and onto the scoreboard. Loyning finally pounded the ball into the end zone on a two-yard rush, and the Grizz were up 6-0 after an unsuccessful two-point conversion. 

“We wanted to establish the run game early,” Wilson said. “That first drive we ended up running down their throat. We had a good start on it.”

The Grizz offense would buckle on their next opportunity. After a pass interference call moved the Grizz up to the 40-yard line, a handoff to Loyning would go for over 20 yards and bring the Grizz to within 10 yards of the end zone. But a false-start penalty led to an errant pass by Files resulting in an interception. 

“It was a misread. We held onto the ball a little too long and allowed the pressure to affect the throw and sailed it a little bit,” Wilson said. “It’s just little mistakes down in the red zone that we have to clean up.”

Shoshoni would still find themselves shut down offensively in the next drive, while Rocky had dreams of revenge. 

Throwing from their own 30, Shoshoni found Rocky Mountain’s Jacob Bischoff instead of their own receiver. With no defenders in his way, Jacob Bischoff ran the ball into the end zone for the pick-six. 

“Bischoff made a good read, and the downfield blocking was good stuff,” Wilson said. “But, honestly, he was so open he could have run backwards into the end zone.”

A successful two-point conversion by Loyning would bring the score to 14-0.

But not for long.

On the ensuing kick return, Shoshoni found light, with Wiley Philleo taking the kickoff the distance on an 85-yard touchdown return. All of a sudden, the Grizz had a game on their hands, 14-7.

“In nine-man (football), little mistakes are amplified,” Wilson said. “There’s just so much more space.”

It would stay that way for a while. 

Rocky had opportunities come their way. A botched punt return gave Rocky the ball at their own 23, but Rocky found themselves stymied from three yards out, a Files pass incomplete on fourth down.

Wind River could only get it just past midfield before the game reached halftime. The Grizz held onto a 14-7 lead.

“With a young team, I was wondering how we would respond,” Wilson said. “But we continued to play good defense.”

After again stopping Wind River, Rocky again found opportunity, with Files finding Tucker Jackson twice for big gains through the air, but the second occurred on fourth down and found Jackson stopped only a yard away from the end zone. It was another turn over on downs, but
Rocky made something of it this time. 

Triffen Jolley broke through the Wrangler offensive line to cause a safety. The Grizz led 16-7. 

“Plain and simple, that guy Triffen is an animal,” Wilson said. “We want to give him the freedom to just get out there and go crazy, and that’s what he does. Wherever the ball is, Triffen is going be there.”

A final Loyning touchdown in the fourth quarter effectively shut the door 24-7, giving Loyning his second touchdown of the game.

The workhorse running back took the ball for 30 carries and gained 142 yards on the afternoon. 

“He had a huge game,” Wilson said. “We’re going to look to take a little bit of load off Wil’s shoulders, adding Hudson May into the running back mix. But Wil loves it. He wants the ball every play.”

Files threw 8 for 12 for 79 yards and ran it 13 times for 41 yards, putting in his best game of the season. 

Jackson had three catches for 63 yards.

The Grizz will have one of the most consequential games of their season as they face off against 2-1 rivals Greybull Friday for their homecoming matchup. Wilson said the Buffs are a power-run team, averaging more than 200 yards on the ground a game, which Wilson believes plays into Rocky’s strengths.

“They pride themselves as being physical, excited and aggressive,” Wilson said. “We look forward to using that against them. With the ways our guys are playing, I look forward to testing ourselves.”