Bolts fall to Sheridan, again; Face Natrona in playoffs next week

Bolt Football
The Thunder Basin High School football team makes its grand entrance. (Photo courtesy of Brian Mitchell)

The Thunder Basin High School football team needed the magic it had earlier in the season that led to a five-game winning streak. The search for that momentum continues.

The Bolts (6-3) needed to beat conference champion Sheridan (8-1) Friday night to host a playoff game in the first round. For the first time since the program’s first year, that won’t happen. The Bolts lost Friday night 28-20 to the Broncs in the regular-season finale.

It’s the first time TBHS has lost back-to-back games since 2017 and the third straight loss against Sheridan. Now, Thunder Basin has the huge task of hitting the road to face Natrona County (6-3) in the first round of the playoffs, just two weeks out from losing a 28-14 game to the Mustangs.

Friday with Sheridan, the Bolts had everything going their way until halftime. The team saw its 17-7 lead slip away when Sheridan scored 21 unanswered points on three big plays to stun TBHS.

Before taking the double-digit lead, Sheridan made the first noise of the game. Standout running back Carter McComb took the third play of the game and bolted 76 yards to give SHS a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.

Bolt Football
TBHS junior receiver Kayden Laframboise (81) had plenty to celebrate Friday night as he hauled in two touchdown catches. (Photo courtesy of Brian Mitchell)

Thunder Basin responded to the quick strike thanks to a big catch by Cade Ayers and a couple nifty runs via Isaiah Haliburton to give the team a first-and-goal.

The drive stalled there, but Ayers got his team on the board with a 37-yard field goal to make it 7-3.

The Bolt defense set the team up for its first lead. Big hits by Logan Loftis and Paul McInerney forced a quick punt that allowed quarterback Ryan Baker, the state’s top signal caller, to give his team the lead.

Kayen Laframboise hauled in a catch, made a spin move on a defender, and sprinted 24 yards to the end zone and a 10-7 first quarter lead.

The Thunder Basin defense didn’t stop there. Led by Caden Randall and many others, the unit forced three more punts to keep Sheridan at bay.

That was just enough time to extend the lead. After a couple impressive runs by Haliburton on the team’s fifth possession of the game, Baker connected with Laframboise again, this time on a 47-yard TD pass to make it 17-7 midway through the second quarter.

Thunder Basin had chances to increase the lead, but the first of three turnovers of the night prevented the team from pulling away. The offense has coughed the ball up six times in the last two games.

Sheridan, which struggled putting drives together, relied on big plays to get by TBHS. It happened again minutes before halftime when Colson Coon busted through the line of scrimmage and rumbled 80 yards to the end zone to make it a 17-14.

The Bolts looked ready to respond as Halibuton’s 40-yard run helped put TBHS in front of the end zone. However, Sheridan picked off Baker at the 3-yard-line to crush the drive.

It proved costly as it was potentially a 14-point swing when the Broncs scored on a trick minutes later to carry a 21-17 lead into halftime.

The state’s No. 1 passing offense was silent in the second half where it settled for three points, a 45-yard field goal by Ayers with seven seconds left in the game.

The only touchdown after the break came on Sheridan’s first drive which made it 21 unanswered points and a 28-17 lead with 8:07 left in the third stanza.