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October 28, 2008 3:37 am

Panthers fall to top-ranked Cody Broncs

Written by Tribune Staff

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Powell High School's Brandon Sullivan (right) follows behind lineman Tyler Showalter for a 15-yard gain during the second quarter of last Friday's Class 4A, West Conference showdown between No. 1 Cody and the fourth-ranked Panthers. Tribune photo by David Dickey

PHS to face Lander in week one of playoffs

The top-ranked Cody High School Broncs claimed Class 4A's West Conference crown Friday by edging No. 4 Powell 14-6 at C.R. “Spike” Vannoy Memorial Stadium in Cody.

Much like PHS head coach Jim Stringer predicted, the game was a low-scoring affair, and the team that made the fewest mistakes came out on top.

“We had so many miscues,” said Stringer, whose team lost three fumbles and suffered an interception. “From an offensive perspective, we had things set up well, but we weren't able to execute like we should have. We also had mistakes on the defensive side that hurt us.”


During the first quarter, both teams had chances to put points on the scoreboard, but neither was able to capitalize.

Following a PHS turnover at the Panther 44 and just past the midway point in the opening period, Cody (6-2 overall, 5-0 West) had a drive stall at the PHS 23 when Trevor Donarski stopped a Bronc receiver short of a first down on a fourth-and-6 play.

Later in the quarter, a Bronc turnover gave the Panthers (5-3 overall, 3-2 West) the ball near midfield. PHS only managed two yards on the ensuing drive, but they got an advantage in field position, thanks to Ryan Brandt's punt, which went out of bounds at the Bronc 5.

Cody, pinned deep in its own territory, failed to gain a yard in three plays and punted, giving PHS good field position once again.

Starting from the Cody 49, the Panthers drove into the Broncs' red zone, but an interception by Bronc defensive back Glen Clinton in the end zone ended PHS's potential scoring drive. Clinton returned the interception 27 yards to the PHS 25 and ended the opening quarter on a sour note for PHS.

In the second quarter, Cody took advantage of a shanked punt by the Panthers, which left the Broncs with the ball at the PHS 44. Facing a short field, the Broncs put together a 10-play drive that ended with quarterback Landon Blanchard throwing a 10-yard scoring strike to Sam Werner. With the PAT, Cody went ahead 7-0 with 3:44 remaining before halftime. The score remained that way until late in the third quarter when Werner eluded PHS's defense for a 52-yard scoring run. On his way to end zone, Werner broke free of a number of would-be tacklers. With the PAT, the Broncs extended their lead to 14-0.

PHS, needing to put together a scoring drive, then fumbled on the first play of its next drive. Cody took control of the ball at the 19. The Broncs' ensuing drive spilled into the early stages of the fourth quarter, and just when it looked as if the Broncs would deliver a knockout punch, the Panthers forced a turnover at the PHS 2.

PHS took advantage of the miscue by mounting a scoring drive highlighted by the well-timed use of trickery. On a first-and-10 from the PHS 44, quarterback Galen Mills delivered a pass to Brandt that covered 14 yards. Brandt quickly tossed a perfect lateral to teammate Brandon Sullivan, who raced 39 yards. The play set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Billy Harshman with 6:18 left in the game. The PAT failed, however, leaving the Panthers behind by eight points.

Following the kickoff after the score, Cody managed one first down before seeing its drive stopped short on downs at the PHS 44 with 2:50 remaining.

The Panthers took over with good field position, but a penalty on first down pushed PHS back to its own 34. With 20 yards to go for a first down, the Panthers only managed six yards before turning over the ball on downs with less than two minutes remaining in the game. From there, the Broncs' offense was able to run out the clock.

PHS finished the contest with 98 yards rushing on 32 attempts. Sullivan was the leading rusher with 64 yards on five carries.

In the passing department, Galen Mills completed six of 15 passes for 78 yards and one interception. Gavin Mills and Harshman led the team with two receptions apiece for 21 and 20 yards, respectively.

As for penalties, the Panthers finished with nine for 71 yards.

The Broncs ground game managed 162 yards on 47 carries. Werner was the leading rusher with three carries for 61 yards. Through the air, Blanchard completed five of 10 passes for 48 yards and one interception. The Broncs also lost three fumbles.

Defensive leaders for PHS included Galen Mills, who finished with an interception, a fumble recovery and 23 defensive points. Trent Gillett added 21 defensive points, and Tyler Showalter added 20. Donarski and Matt McArthur each finished with 17 defensive points.

Cody's defensive effort was paced by Dayton McMillan, who tallied 25 defensive points. Werner and Jon Chavez each added 17 defensive points.

• Up next: The Panthers will open the first round of the playoffs Friday at 6 p.m. when they travel to face Lander. During the regular season, the Tigers defeated Powell 19-14 in Panther Stadium.

Other first-round matchups include Rawlins at Douglas, Worland at Buffalo and Torrington at Cody.