by nathan oster
Greybull and Lovell added another entertaining, hard-hitting chapter to their gridiron rivalry Friday night, as the two Class 2A West Conference foes went toe to toe for four quarters before the visiting Buffs emerged with a 48-33 win over the Bulldogs.
The win moved the Buffs to 5-3 overall and sent them to the playoffs with the No. 3 seed from the West. They will meet 7-1 Newcastle, the No. 2 from the East, Friday at 6 p.m. in the home lair of the Dogies.
The game in Lovell wasn’t for the weak of heart, as the game featured one momentum swing after another. Greybull had it first, lost it, got it back again in a dizzying two-minute stretch just before half, and then nearly lost it again at the buzzer when a Lovell receiver dropped a sure touchdown in the end zone.
“A couple of people said afterward, ‘Boy, I sure enjoyed watching that game.’ I told them I’ll have to watch it later … because it wasn’t that enjoyable, being on the inside of what was really going on,” said Coach Marty Wrage.
From start to finish it was Greybull’s best game of the season, Wrage said.
A pair of Calder Forcella to Fabian Davila strikes gave the Buffs an early 13-0 lead. For a team with a habit of starting slowly, it was a welcome change. “It was very important because those two scores kind of set the tone,” said Wrage. “We knew Lovell had a high-powered offense too, and that we had to do something, either a quick score on offense or forcing a turnover on defense, to get us going.”
Lovell had a counterpunch, however. The Bulldogs mounted a long scoring drive, capping it with an 8-yard touchdown run by Beau Green with 38 seconds remaining in the first quarter, then tied it at 13 on a 45-yard run by Cade Bischoff with 7 minutes to play in the second.
From that point on, it was one big play after another by the Buffs.
A pass from Forcella to Wyatt Nielson to convert a fourth-and 10 with 3:55 to go.
A 2-yard run by Calder Forcella with 2:49 to play that made it 20-13.
A Wyatt Neilson interception that gave the Buffs the ball back.
And finally, an 8-yard-run by Dawson Forcella that upped the Greybull lead to 27-13 with just 29 seconds left in the half. And while Lovell did its best to cut into that lead, driving the length of the field in the waning seconds, it was the Buffs who went into the half with the momentum.
Wrage said it was still an intense scene in the Greybull locker room. “All we talked about at the half was that the kids had to expect anything from Lovell,” he said. “We knew we were going to have to keep battling back…that we could never quit. We knew Lovell wouldn’t.”
Just as Wrage predicted, the Bulldogs came out swinging. They turned the opening possession of the second half into a 7-yard touchdown run by Green to cut the lead to 27-19, then recovered an onside kick and scored again on a 45-yard pass from Green to Brandon Teeter.
The two scores came less than a minute apart. Suddenly, it was a tie game, 27-27. Momentum was wearing a blue shirt when the Greybull coaches huddled up the Buffs on the sideline and implored them to do dig deeper.
From that point on, the Buffs outscored the Bulldogs 21-8.
“The fight in the boys really came out,” said Wrage. “They willed themselves to the win.”
The Buffs went up 34-27 on a 1-yard run by Forcella. The key play on the drive was hookup between Forcella and Nielson that moved the chains.
With 8:06 left, the Buffs extended their lead to 41-27 on a 14-yard pass from Forcella to Nielson.
Lovell followed that up with a touchdown of its own, pulling to within 41-33 in the process, before the Buffs officially salted away the win on a run from Forcella in which the senior simply wouldn’t be denied the end zone.
The 48-33 win was a landmark victory for the Greybull program.
Lovell had won the last three in the series.
Greybull’s last win came in 2010, when this year’s seniors were eighth graders. Twenty-one kids went out for football that year. This year there are six: Forcella, Nielson, Davila, Drayton Griffin, Justin Bacus and Chris Ogg.
Wrage said those six seniors have helped younger players grow throughout the season, and that it was a thrill to see them not only qualify for the playoffs, but also notch their first win over the Bulldogs.
“All week long, we talked about how we probably weren’t going to get another shot at Lyman. We were disappointed by how we played, how we coached. But we also recognized that if we handled things up front, were physical and tough, that we could bounce back. We did it after the Mountain View game. And we did it again after the Lyman game.”
On to playoffs
The Buffs have already faced their opening round opponent, the Newcastle Dogies.
When they faced off in Greybull, the game was knotted at 14 apiece before the Dogies pulled away to notch a 34-14 win. A run-first team, Newcastle struck twice on long pass plays to stun the Buffs in the second half.
“The kids are fired up,” said Wrage. “We are a different team than when we played them earlier. We are looking forward to the challenge, focusing simply on improving ourselves.
“I’m so proud of the players and what they’ve done,” Wrage continued. “They set goals…and they just keep knocking them down. They have developed into a team, they’ve worked well together. We keep getting better.”
Greybull 13 14 7 14 — 48
Lovell 6 7 14 6 — 33
G — Fabian Davila 33-yard pass from Calder Forcella.
G — Davila 48-yard pass from Forcella (Davila kick).
L — Beau Green 8-yard run.
L — Cade Bischoff 45-yard run (Brandon Teeter kick).
G — Forcella 2-yard run (Davila kick).
G — Dawson Forcella 9-yard run (Davila kick).
L — Green 7-yard run.
L — Teeter 45-yard pass from Green (Tristen Snyder run).
G — Calder Forcella 1-yard run (Davila kick).
G — Wyatt Nielson 14-yard pass from Forcella (Davila kick).
L — Britton Woody 35-yard pass from Green.
G — Calder Forcella 16-yard run (Davila kick).
RUSHING — Greybull 50-270; Lovell 30-178.
PASSING — Greybull 10-of-21 for 238 yards; Lovell 14-of-25 for 267 yards.
DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS — Nielson had 2 interceptions, 6 assisted tackles and 2 unassisted tackles. Lane Nielsen had 5 assisted tackles, 1 unassisted tackle and a sack. Dawson McEwan had 5 assisted tackles and 3 solo stops. Gabe Keisel had a fumble recovery. Riley Hill had 6 assisted tackles and 1 solo tackle.