JACKSON, Wyo. — History was made Friday night under the lights in Jackson as the Broncs finally got the monkey off their back, slew the dragon, (insert your animal-based idiom [here]), and bested the Star Valley Braves for the first time in the team’s past six meetings.
The Broncs did it behind a strong performance from their defense and a balanced offensive attack that featured both fast and blast to move the ball efficiently.
Star Valley has owned Jackson for the past few decades, and when the team once known as the Cheesemakers scored the game’s first touchdown in the second quarter after a scoreless first, the Broncs never blinked. The Black & Orange didn’t get down but marched down the field with a controlled drive and responded with a TD of their own.
Jackson added two more scores and hung on for a 21-14 win to move to 4-1 as the Braves record fell to 1-4.
The Broncs managed nearly 300 yards on offense with Brody Hasenack toting the load there. The junior running back picked up most of his 190 yards in the second half after head coach David Joyce found ways to keep the Braves off his back by calling other numbers including Clancy Meagher and option keep runs from QB Sadler Smith who picked up over 80 yards on the ground.
The Braves vaunted running game never got on track as Lane Oesch was bottled up all night. Jackson has allowed very little in the running game against any of their opponents this year.
But Star Valley found some success in the passing game as Brant Nelson completed 16 of 36 pass attempts against a young secondary that bent but did not break.
The Broncs kept the play-calling close to the vest in the second half, even after Joyce rolled the dice on the first half’s last play.
After stopping an impressive Star Valley drive and taking the ball over deep in their own territory with some 18 seconds left, everyone in attendance including Braves coach Mackay Young had to be expecting the Broncs to simple kneel and take the 14-7 lead into the field house. But Joyce pulled out a high-risk/high reward hook and ladder with a quick strike to Colter Dawson who then lateralled to a streaking Hasenack with a head of steam.
Jackson executed the play well but it was a go-to-the-house gamble or go home play. It picked up some 30 yards but not enough to risk running another.
Joyce leaned on his defense for the final period, dialing up pressure only occasionally, sending linebacker Dawson on a blitz now and then.
The Broncs hung on after momentum clearly shifted Star Valley’s way later in the game.
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