Dogies take the win in edge-of-your-seat double OT

Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

The Friday Night Lights burned brightly in Wheatland last Friday as the Dogies traveled to take on the Bulldogs in their conference opener. After playing against three tough 3A teams in the first two weeks of the season, head coach Matt Conzelman knew his team had the goods to defeat the Bulldogs, but also knew they would have to play well to do it.

“It was a crazy game!” Conzelman said. “There were so many times I thought we were going to let it slip through our fingers, but that’s what I call the Dogie Magic!”

That Dogie Magic resulted in a white-fisted, gray-hair-producing, heart-pounding double overtime 20-18 victory for Newcastle. 

The first quarter was slow for both teams and then in the second quarter things started to pick up as the Bulldogs got on the board first with 10:46 to play in the half. The Dogie D had forced them into a 4th and 13 situation, but then Wheatland connected on a pass for the touchdown. Newcastle held them out of the end-zone on the 2-point conversion attempt to hold their lead to 6-0. 

“Other than when they scored on us in the second quarter, the defense played their tails off,” Conzelman said. “We were there, but we just didn’t make a play on it.”

The weather played a role in the Dogies offensive scheme, throwing a monkey wrench into their passing game.

“The weather didn’t help anyone on Friday. I don’t know if it was the wettest game I’ve ever been a part of, but it definitely affected us more than them,” Conzelman, said, frowning. “They were still able to pass, but it made us a one-dimensional team because we had to run it. We shortened up the throws to make them work though.”

The Dogies quickly answered the Bulldog TD on a screen pass play from Quint Perino to Hogan Tystad on the left side with 8:33 remaining in the second quarter. Tystad caught the ball, slipped past two Bulldog defenders and scampered untouched about 45 yards down the sideline to punch it into the end-zone. 

After lining up for a 2-point conversion attempt, Conzelman called a time-out and opted to go for the PAT, which was close, but went a little bit wide right, so the score was knotted up at 6-6.

In the remainder of the first half, the two teams battled to try to add to their score. The Dogies forced a turnover on downs with 4:09 to play, but then flipped it back to the Bulldogs on their 35-yard line with a turnover on downs as well. With mere seconds left in the second quarter and a 4th and 11 situation, Wheatland bobbled their punt attempt and the Dogies recovered on the Wheatland 27-yard line with 14 ticks remaining on the clock.

Unfortunately, Newcastle couldn’t convert on the turnover in the two plays they were able to get off, so the score remained 6-6 going into the halftime break.

“It was a tough offensive day. We had about 45 plays, fumbled the ball three times though only gave it up to them once,” Conzelman reported. “It was difficult for us to hold onto the pigskin, and it kind of felt like we were playing hot potato a lot.”

The third quarter looked like both teams were playing hot potato. With 9:47 remaining in the quarter, senior Jacob Prell knocked the ball loose from a Bulldog player and the Dogies recovered on the Wheatland 45-yard line. 

However, Newcastle followed that up with a fumble, which they recovered for a 2-yard loss and then fumbled again with 58 seconds left and this time, it was a turnover for the squad, giving Wheatland the ball to start the final frame of play.

With 9:26 to play, Wheatland connected on a deep pass and the Dogies couldn’t catch up so the Bulldogs got their second touchdown of the night. Fortunately, the play was called back due to Wheatland having an illegal man downfield. Their offensive drive ended with a 4th and 4, goal-line stand by the Dogies who then began their offensive drive with 6:43 remaining, but couldn’t make it into the end-zone either.

“There were just so many plays that I thought, ‘this is the play of the game,’” Conzelman said. “And then there would be another one that was even better.”

The two teams traded possessions one more time as the time ticked away, and with :59 on the clock, the Dogie D once again executed another huge goal line stand to keep the Bulldogs out of the end-zone, and pushed the contest into overtime.

Overtime in football consists of each team getting a possession on the 10-yard line where they have four plays to try to score. Newcastle won the toss and elected to defer to the Bulldogs. Wheatland put their heads down and power-pushed the ball into the end-zone to go up 12-6. The Dogies held them out on their 2-point conversion attempt, then got their turn with the ball.

“We wanted to let them go first so we knew what we needed to do,” Conzelman began. “So when we got the ball, we knew we had to punch it in.”

It took all four attempts, but Connor Stolhhammer was able to get it across the goal line to tie things up again at 12. The Dogie 2-point conversion was also no good, so the game went into double overtime.

This time the Dogies possessed first. After Perino was sacked on the first down for a loss of 6, Holden McConkey was able to make up the yardage and pull his team ahead by 6. McConkey also carried the ball in for the first successful 2-point conversion of the night, giving the Dogies a 20-12 lead, and a little bit of breathing room as Wheatland took possession of the ball.

“After the sack, it wasn’t looking great,” Conzelman admitted. “But then we ran the same play twice and Holden was able to get in each time, and it was then that we felt like we had it.”

Wheatland got another touchdown with a pass play on first down, and then the pressure was on for both teams. They had to go for two, but the Dogie D said no to that attempt, thereby picking up their first win of the season and of the conference 20-18. 

“I thought we might be heading into another overtime and I started writing my script for the plays we would run,” Conzelman stated. “When Wheatland snapped the ball, there were about three Dogies downfield. The D was able to wrap up their ball carrier to win the game.”

“As far as the excitement factor goes, that game has got to be in the top three of all time,” Conzelman grinned. “It was up and down, but the guys just kept fighting and they lived out our #BeRelentless theme.” 

The Dogies enjoyed their win, but are back at it getting ready for their Homecoming game. The Burns Broncs are coming off an overtime loss to Torrington, so will be coming in hungry for a conference win. 

“It won’t be a walk in the park so we need to come in and do what we need to do,” Conzelman determined. “We need to get our play count up and move the sticks.” 

The Homecoming game will kickoff at 6 p.m. on Friday, and the Booster Club will be hosting a barbecue at 5:30 p.m.


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