Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Patriots continue winning streak

It was a battle between two of the top five seeded teams this past week as the #2 ranked Wheatland Bulldogs came to town to face the #4 Upton-Sundance Patriots. Both teams came into the game undefeated but it was the Patriots who were able to keep their record. 

A rapid offensive start put the Patriots to a third and long position. Quarterback Brad Kruger then found Brayden Bruce on a quick slant and Bruce was able to find the end zone for a 53-yard touchdown run as the Patriots jumped out to a speedy 6-0 lead.

As the Bulldogs took over on offense, the Patriot defense held their ground. A quarterback sack by the Patriots forced the Bulldogs to punt the ball away.

The next few possessions found both offenses moving the ball, but coming up a little short of the necessary yardage. As the clock began to wind down on the quarter, the Bulldogs were sitting in good position on the 50-yard line; however, with a fumble on the snap, the Patriots regained possession of the football.

A penalty and sack backed the Patriot offense up but it was not enough to slow them down. With a reverse rollout Patriot, quarterback Brad Kruger was able to find a wide-open Brayden Bruce for a 48-yard touchdown pass.

After a successful two-point conversion, the Patriots found themselves with a 14-0 lead and 25 seconds remaining in the quarter. However, the scoring for the quarter wasn’t done yet.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Patriots were unable to pin the Bulldogs down and Rodee Brow returned the kickoff for a touchdown. Hoping to creep a little closer, the Bulldogs went for two-point conversion and closed the gap 8-14 to end the first quarter. 

As the second quarter of play opened up the Patriots were not willing to let the Bulldogs get back in the game. Patriots quickly strung together a couple first downs and Kruger was able to find Bruce once again, on the goal line, with a beautiful fade pass, increasing the score for the Patriots, 20-8.

“Brayden is definitely one of my favorite receivers to throw to,” quarterback Brad Kruger stated. “While it’s not really by design, when I drop back to throw it seems as though he’s always open.” 

Defenses then got back on track for both teams as neither team was able to do much damage for the next few possessions. With less than five minutes remaining in the half, the Patriot offense took control and was looking to score before time ran out.

As quarterback Brad Kruger rolled out to the left, he found nobody open but the field, and raced in for the 49-yard touchdown. “Especially when playing a good team like Wheatland, making big plays like that really gives us the momentum,” Kruger commented. 

The Bulldogs tried to quickly mount a comeback before the half ran out, making their way towards the end zone. Within scoring distance and only seconds remaining on the clock, Patriot Ethan Mills intercepted the pass and brought the first half to a close, 26-8 in favor of the Patriots. 

Stats from the game:

Offensive Stats

Team Rushing – 42 attempts for 290 yards, 3 TDs

Jess Claycomb – 16 for 88

Brayden Bruce – 3 for 79, 1 TD

Levi Rudloff – 12 for 63, 1 TD

Brad Krueger – 7 for 58, 1 TD

Team Passing – 9 completions on 16 attempts for 214 yards, 4 TDs

Brad Krueger – 9 completions on 15 attempts for 214, 4 TDs


Brayden Bruce – 3 for 119, 3 TDs

Lane Gill – 2 for 36

Reece Barritt – 2 for 32, 1 TD

Jess Claycomb – 1 for 16

Levi Rudloff – 2 for 11

Defense Top 5

Reece Barritt – 31 points = 7 UT, 6 PBU, 1 INT

Lane Gill – 19 points = 1 AT, 1 UT, 2 Sacks, 2 Fumble Recoveries

Wyatt Gillespie – 17.5 points = 3 AT, 2 UT, 1 TFL, 2.5 Sacks

Nathan Baker – 13.5 points = 4 AT, 3 UT, .5 Sack, 1 PBU

Brayden Bruce – 13 points = 2 AT, 4 UT, 1 Sack

The second half opened up with the Bulldog offense looking to prove they are worthy of their number two ranking. Despite the Patriots best efforts on defense, the Bulldogs were able to find a big hole up the left side and get themselves on the board with another touchdown, closing the gap 14-27 with 9:07 remaining in the half.

Not to be outdone, Brayden Bruce and the Patriot offense responded on first down with a 78-yard touchdown run to let the Bulldogs know they were not leaving undefeated. The Patriot defense continued to do their part, forcing a quick three and out and giving the ball back to the potent Patriot offense.

On the first play of the drive, Jess Claycomb broke free for 37 yards, bringing the Patriots back into scoring position. After several short gains and an incomplete pass, the Patriots took a timeout to discuss fourth down.

The discussion went well as Brad Kruger was able to find Reece Barritt for a 32-yard touchdown pass to make the score 39-14 with 5:05 to go in the third. Two big sacks by the Patriot defense pushed the Bulldogs deep into the backfield and closed the third quarter.

“I thought our defensive unit played well, they made the game adjustments that we worked on all week and executed them very well for the most part,” commented Assistant Coach Lance Hofland.

Moving into the fourth quarter, the defense continued to hold their ground, which would allow the Patriot offense to start the fourth quarter with two goals in mind: take as much time off the clock as possible and score. Keeping it on the ground, the offense was able to do just that as Levi Rudloff ran into the endzone from seven yards out and increased the Patriot lead, 46-14. 

The clock continued to run as both team’s offenses exchanged turnovers midway through the fourth. The Bulldogs second possession looked dismal at first but on third and 15 quarterback Kade Preult was able to find Rodee Brow for another Bulldog touchdown.

The fourth quarter then rolled to a close with the Patriots handing the Bulldogs their first loss of the season with a final score, 46-21.

The Patriots will take their three-game winning streak on the road as they travel to Torrington on Friday to face off against the Torrington Trailblazers.