Four tries from the 20-yard-line. That’s all each team had to get on the scoreboard once the Bearcats and Riverton Wolverines moved into overtime tied 7–7. In the first overtime game of the year, the Wolverines had the ball first, moving ever closer to the end zone on first, second and third downs before the pivotal fourth down.
The Wolverines ran the ball, trusting that they could push their way into the endzone. Senior linebacker Jake Halquist, playing his last game at Douglas High School, met the running back at the 3-yard line with a booming right shoulder, bringing him down to the ground and putting the ball in the Bearcats’ hands.
All it took was one score for the Bearcats to put away the game and head into the playoffs with a win. The Douglas coaches trusted the same formation that put them in a position to win. Lining up in the heavy formation, quarterback A.J. Yeaman handed off three times to Gabe Borman before Borman plowed in for the game-winning score.
“I was very confident in myself. I wanted it to go in. I was not going to stop,” Borman said.
The night ended with the Bearcats celebrating wildlhy around head coach Jay Rhoades, but it all started in a more ceremonial fashion. The Douglas football team’s 16 seniors, as well as seniors from other fall sports, were honored in front of the cheering crowd. Then, it took contributions on the field from all of the seniors to get the win.
The game started with a massive what-could-have-been moment for Douglas. Sophomore running back Keltan Ewing broke five tackles down the right side of the field for a 40-yard touchdown run right away — only for it to be called back for a block in the back penalty. Douglas ended up committing seven penalties in the game. The first quarter sped by, ending at 0–0.
Both teams lit up the board in the second quarter.
Douglas scored on a 28-yard touchdown strike down the middle of the field from Yeaman to senior Sutton Perry, who said later that the two have a strong connection on the field after playing together since middle school. Setting up the touchdown strike to Perry was a 30-yard bullrush by Borman. The second half was a scoreless battle for different reasons.
Douglas struggled to convert and pick up points down in their own territory, while the Wolverines struggled to move down the field in any consistent way.
Then came the overtime period where the coaches on both offensive and defensive, who were praised at length by Rhoades after the game, put their players in a position to win. While the game was a grand goodbye for the team’s seniors, it was the underclassmen who got the job done on the ground.
Ewing led the Bearcats in carries with 18 and rushing yards with 101, while Borman added 8 yards on 12 runs. Senior Cale Collins added 13 yards on four carries. Sophomore Koby Case ran the ball once for two yards. Yeaman also tucked and ran seven times for 10 yards.
The Bearcats struggled to make significant gains in the air. Case threw one pass, which was intercepted, while Yeaman went 7/19 with 59 yards and four interceptions. While it wasn’t Yeaman’s best performance, he remained a steady hand under center and showed why he is a team leader.
“You’ve just got to trust the process, trust that the coaches know what they’re doing and trust in your other teammates and that’s what we did tonight,” Yeaman said.
Cooper Gamble caught two passes for 20 yards, while Case led the team with three receptions. Perry’s only catch of the game was the second quarter touchdown, and senior Cayden Dowse added one catch for six yards.
Defensively, the entire lineup worked together to keep the game tight. Halquist played one of his best games of the year, tying for the team lead with six solo tackles and getting one of the team’s sacks. The other sack came from Case who also had six solo tackles.
Borman and senior lineman Cody Pinkerton shared the solo tackle lead with six apiece. Also on the line, senior Dawson Stinson had five solo and five assisted tackles. Gamble forced both of the Riverton turnovers in the game, one interception and one fumble recovery.
The win put the Bearcats into a three-way tie for second place in the conference. Douglas would have needed to beat the Wolverines by more than 12 to get into third place. Because they won by six, they are the fourth seed in the playoffs and have a date with the Star Valley Braves. Star Valley is on an 18-game winning streak.
It’s a streak the Bearcats want nothing more than to snap.
“We’re going over there with the idea that we’re going to win this ballgame,” Rhoades said.
Yeaman added it will take a week of focus, dedication and intense preparation to win and advance. The game is scheduled for Nov. 1 with the opening kickoff at 3 p.m. in Star Valley.