The Cody football team took an early blow from Powell, and then reeled off a string of unanswered scores to beat the Panthers 38-14 Friday night in Cody to remain undefeated and earn their first conference win.
The homecoming victory helped solidify the top ranking for the Broncs (4-0, 1-0), who dominated the No. 2 ranked Panthers (4-1, 0-1) in a physical, heated contest.
“It lived up to the hype,” coach Matt McFadden said. “Cody versus Powell is always a good crowd. It’s the Big Horn Brawl. It was a beautiful night. Everything just aligned perfectly for us.”
Things looked to be aligning perfectly for Powell to start things off. Panther running back Reed Smith capped off a 61-yard run with a short touchdown scamper to put the Panthers up 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
Cody ended up punting on its first possession before the defense found an answer for Smith, and quarterback Luke Talich hooked up with Drew Trotter on a long touchdown strike to make it 7-6 heading into the second quarter.
The Broncs offensive line helped grind out tough yards on the ground to open up the big pass play.
“It was a blast,” offensive and defensive lineman Danny Becker said. “There are giant guys out there to block. It was fun just punching and getting punched. When we didn’t control the line of scrimmage our plays didn’t get through. When we did we just went right down the field.”
A bad snap on a Panther punt in the second quarter recovered by Cody helped set up a Jackson Schroeder touchdown to make it 12-7 with 10 minutes to go in the half.
The Powell implosion escalated on their next possession while the Broncs continued to grind out yards on the ground and eat up the clock.
After a Powell punt with time winding down in the first half, Schroeder got the edge and turned on the jets for a long touchdown run to make it 18-7 Broncs with 2:21 left in the half. After forcing a Powell punt, Talich had a big return combined with a late hit penalty on the Panthers to set them up at the Powell 5-yard line.
Talich scored on a quarterback keeper to put Cody in control 25-7 heading into halftime.
He finished the game with 44 yards on the ground on seven carries. He added 134 yards through the air and three touchdowns.
“Luke has spent a lot of time working on his throwing technique,” McFadden said. “The offensive line gave him time to throw. They aren’t the biggest guys, but they are smart, unselfish, use good technique. They are explosive, very athletic and very quick.”
The offensive line again helped grind out a Broncs drive to start the third quarter. Talich found Kellon George in the end zone at the 9:40 mark of the third to make it 31-7.
The Panthers finally went back to Smith on their next possession, but the Broncs defense came up big on a fourth down and two to force a turnover on downs.
In the fourth quarter the Broncs took advantage of a Jackson Gail interception. Talich connected with Wilkins Radakovich, as the junior wide receiver went up high and snagged a perfect pitch from the quarterback. It was the tall wide receiver’s first varsity touchdown grab and put the Broncs up comfortably 38-7.
“The play was kind of called for me,” Radakovich said. “We kind of played it out in practice and coach really wanted to run in the game. I was just able to make the play. It was a great throw from the quarterback.”
Powell’s Hawkin Sweeney added a touchdown late for the Panthers, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.
“Powell’s whole team is tough and physical,” McFadden said. “They always are. They are very well coached and a very good team. Obviously things didn’t start out very well. We over-pursued on some things, but we did some adjusting and made a lot of good things happen.
The Panthers were holding teams to just eight points per game before they met up with the Broncs.
Schroeder finished the game with 155 yards on nine carries. Chaz Cowie racked up 48 yards on seven carries.
Remy Broussard led the charge on defense for the Broncs. The junior piled up six tackles, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. Daniel Gorman finished with seven tackles and a tackle for loss. Becker ended up with two tackles for loss.
“This was a huge win,” Becker said. “But winning state would be much bigger.”
That road to state will wind down to Evanston (5-0, 1-0) for a matchup with the Red Devils.
“Evanston is a good team, an unbeaten team and a triple option team,” McFadden said. “We will have to be disciplined and everyone needs to focus on their job. It’s usually windy down there and it’s a long bus ride. It’s going to be a challenge.”