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Rams bid for State thwarted by Lions

By: 
Alastair Baker
News Editor
Thursday, November 21, 2019
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Photo by Erika Binando
Red Lodge's Braden Tomlin with a carry down the field, being chased by the Lions.

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Photo by Erika Binando
Red Lodge fans cheer on the Rams!!

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So close yet so far. Sports can be a joyous experience but also undeniably cruel.

Twenty-four years ago Red Lodge lost out to a State berth by 3 points to Big Fork. Twenty-fours years later it was the turn of Lincoln County Lions (Eureka) to douse the Rams hopes by 4 points. 

The Rams have played extremely well this season and entered the semi-final fully versed on what faced them, another undefeated team. Someone had to give. 

However giving way proved to be not in either teams vocabulary as the opening quarter proved a feisty affair with the teams checking each other out, looking for weaknesses, looking for a player not up to par this day. 

After five minutes of play the heavens seemed to open with two touchdowns in the space of 12 seconds of play.

First to draw blood was Lincoln off a 39 yard run, 7-0. Not to be outdone the Rams came storming back with Jay Jetmore, living up to his name, zooming through for a 40-yard touchdown return. Jay Graham added the extra point. 

All good so far with the Rams refusing to be intimidated and further buoyed by a boisterous and loud Red Lodge contingent. 

The script changed dramatically in the 2nd quarter, almost as if this was suddenly another game. 

Lincoln came out of the block fast and within 44 seconds had added a 2nd touchdown. Red Lodge held firm and looked for a way back, eating into Lincoln territory and in doing so opened the door for Lincoln to score a 3rd from a 65 yard run. 

Being down 21-7 isn’t a mountain of sorts but requires a lot of concentration not only to find another touchdown but not to concede more, a fine balance that paid off with Jetmore coming in from 50 yards to make it 21-13, 90 seconds later. Graham held his thoughts together and kicked the extra. 

Lincoln pressed on again relentlessly and was rewarded 97 seconds from the half time whistle. It was a devastating blow for the Rams having done so much to cut the deficit. 

Into the third quarter and another script change only this time with coach John Fitzgerald and his team’s plays all over it. 

Three and a half minutes in, delirium for the Rams fans as Braden Tomlin ran in from 34 yards to make it 27-20 and Graham matching this with the extra kick, 27-21.

Down to 6 points in it yet again but then Lincoln had other thoughts and came back with a 4th touchdown to make it 33-21. A silver lining appeared on the horizon as Lincoln failed to collect on the two-point conversion. 

With 102 seconds left on the 3rd quarter clock chaos reigned supreme has Tomlin ran in from 6 yards to make it 33-27 and Graham held up his end of the bargain, 33-28. 

Now a 5-point gap made an appearance shredding the nerves of all those witnessing this battle. 

Just as suddenly as the Rams scored, bang went that narrow gap as Lincoln pushed through the Rams ranks for a 42-yard touchdown, 39-28. Once more hope shined on Red Lodge as a 2-point conversion failed. 

Back came Red Lodge though, again intent of narrowing the gap and this they did as Austin Heimer ran in from 5-yards and Graham kicked the extra to make it 39-35. 

Four points! Nothing more. And still another quarter to come. Could it be done?

But both teams had done themselves in, had fought tooth and nail for that State berth and the 4th quarter passed with not a touchdown. 

Red Lodge has given everything this season and should be immensely proud of what they have accomplished. 

Although the “outcome was not what we hoped for,” said Fitzgerald, he “could not be more proud of our team as they competed throughout the game just coming up short in the end.”

“Our boys have come a long way from 0-8 two years ago and 2-7 last year to 10-1 this year.  They trusted the process and achieved much this year.  As a coach and educator we want to see growth over time, and the boys achieved that and more,” he said.  

For the record Austin Jessen led in passing with 10 for 112 yards and two touchdowns, Heimer led in rushing with 11 carries for 86 yards and one touchdown and Tomlin led in receiving with 5 for 87 yards for one touchdown. 

In defensive stats Jetmore made 13.5 tackles, 13 solo and one assists, Bannack Kisthard made 8.5 tackles, 7 solo and 3 assists. 

“As a program, we are grateful for the level of support the parents and the communities of Red Lodge, Roberts, and Belfry showed us this year.  It was truly exceptional and we would not have been as successful without that support,” said Fitzgerald.    

“Lastly, I would like to thank our seniors for being tremendous leaders and role models for our younger players.  They have established a strong foundation for which our future Rams teams can build on,” he said.  

 

 

 

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The Carbon County News

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