Thunder Basin’s last game of its 2021 season did not end the way the ‘Bolts hoped it would.

In a 17-14 overtime loss to Natrona in the Class 4A quarterfinals, Thunder Basin’s season came to an end.

Nevertheless, the loss still provided a historical first — the program’s first overtime game in five years of existence. And it’s no surprise that Thunder Basin played Natrona in an overtime game.

Since 1975, when overtime became the standard for Wyoming high school football, 277 games have gone into overtime. In breaking down all 277, here are some takeaways:

  • No team has played more overtime games than Natrona.
  • No team has done better than Lingle.
  • No team has done worse than Pinedale.

Overtime has been around in Wyoming high school football since 1975; prior to that, games that were tied at the end of regulation were just called ties, while playoff games tied at the end of regulation were broken by a variety of methods.

Wyoming’s first first non-playoff overtime game was in the first full week of the 1975 season. Basin and Tongue River went into two overtimes to decide a winner, with the Bobcats emerging with a 30-24 victory in Dayton.

That was the first of seven OT games in 1975, including three involving Basin — a single-team record for overtime games in a season that has been matched three other times (Upton in 1977, Cheyenne East in 1986 and Natrona in 2013) but never surpassed.

Who crushes overtime — and who OT crushes

Lingle has the best winning percentage of any program that’s played in more than one overtime game. The Doggers are 8-1 all-time in overtimes, most recently winning in 2020 against Greybull in extra time.

Rock Springs and Lyman aren’t far behind. Both Southwest programs are 80% winners in OT, with the Tigers at 8-2 and the Eagles at 4-1 all-time in OT games.

With 10 victories, Evanston has won more overtime games than any other program.

At the bottom of the list is Pinedale, which has won just one of its seven OT games in program history; Kemmerer isn’t far off the pace at 1-5 all-time.

Of programs that have been around since 1975, no one is undefeated in OT, and no one is winless.

Who loves it — and who hates it

By a small margin, Natrona has played in more overtime games (20) since 1975 than any other Wyoming program; the Mustangs are 9-11 in those games. Star Valley and Evanston have both played in 17 OT games, including four times against each other, while four programs (Central, East, Laramie and Green River) have played in 15 apiece.

Of the six programs that have never played in an overtime game, none have been around longer than 2009; they are Cheyenne South, Upton-Sundance, St. Stephens, Kaycee, Encampment and Farson. Of teams that have been around the full span of OT, both Rawlins and Guernsey-Sunrise share the spot for the fewest overtime games with three apiece. Both are 1-2 in those games.

Oddly enough, of all teams active in 1975 that are still going today, Sheridan went the longest before having its first overtime game; the Broncs didn’t play in an overtime affair until 1999. Since then, the Broncs have had six more. And Dubois takes the cake for currently having avoided OT the longest; the Rams haven’t played in extra time since 1994. Up until an overtime game against Big Horn in 2021, Torrington held that spot, having not played an overtime game since 1991. In addition to Dubois, two other programs — Ten Sleep (1995) and Hanna (1999) — also haven’t played in OT in the 21st century.

The series that saw the most consecutive games go to overtime is Douglas/Glenrock. Three consecutive games between the Bearcats and Herders from 1988-90 all went overtime.

Numbers going down?

The number of overtime games per season has fluctuated over time, but no season since 2010 has had more than five. However, there were 15 overtime games in 2007 (including four on opening weekend alone), 12 in 2008 and 11 in 2009 — a three-year total of 38 that is only barely surpassed by the total of the 12 seasons that followed it (42). The 15 OT games in 2007 is the single-season record; meanwhile, 2012 and 2014 only had one overtime game apiece, the record for the fewest such games in a season.

The first week of the 1994 season tied 2007 for the most overtime games in a week with four, but the entire 1994 season only finished with six OT games. The final week of the 1999 season also had four overtime games, a lot for a season that only finished with nine.

Bye to the tie — unless it gets weird

Wyoming’s final non-accidental tie was Meeteetse’s 12-12 tie with Manderson on Oct. 30, 1974; since overtime came along, only two other games have finished as ties, and those were under weird circumstances.

The 45-45 shootout draw staged between Big Horn and Riverside was staged in the 1987 season opener on Sept. 4. The game went three overtimes, but after the overtimes failed to determine a winner, the officials called the game a draw. This was also Riverside’s first game in its incarnation as Riverside after the high schools of Basin and Manderson joined over the previous summer.

A weird set of circumstances in a 2017 game between Rocky Mountain and the Natrona sophomores led to the second tie score in Wyoming since overtime was instituted prior to the 1975 season. First, the game was a neutral-site affair, played in Thermopolis. Second, the score was 9-9 ­— an odd score for teams to reach regardless, but even odder for two teams to reach in the same game. Third, the game never finished on the field, as the threat of lightning strikes led to the game’s premature ending at halftime. The odds of all those circumstances coming together at once (neutral site, scores of 9, weather cancelation and tie game)? Astronomically against. 

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The table below notes records in overtime games since 1975, through the end of the 2021 season. The table is sortable by each category by clicking on the header column.

TeamOT WOT LWin %Total GamesFirstLast
Basin310.750419751980
St. Mary's310.750419751988
Dubois310.750419781994
Ten Sleep340.429719771995
Hanna430.571719801999
Rawlins120.333319892003
Midwest340.429719782003
Jackson140.200519752004
Kemmerer150.167619752006
Saratoga130.250419822006
Meeteetse430.571719772006
Sundance340.429719772007
Upton480.3331219762008
NSI220.500420002008
Wheatland330.500619852008
Thermopolis420.667619762008
Wind River350.375819802009
Lusk340.429719842009
Lander340.429719792009
Worland340.429719792009
Wyoming Indian330.500619882009
Star Valley980.5291719772009
Cody570.4171219762010
Lyman410.800519762010
Cokevile650.5451119752011
Evanston1070.5881719752011
Buffalo320.600519832011
Green River690.4001519792012
Big Horn630.667919802012
Kelly Walsh250.286719792013
Powell440.500819792013
Guernsey-Sunrise120.333319822015
Glenrock360.333919782015
Hulett330.500619952015
Moorcroft660.5001219812015
Pinedale160.143719752016
Big Piney570.4171219762016
Burlington340.429719832016
Lovell850.6151319762016
Mountain View730.7001019752016
Snake River101.000120162016
Wright250.286719852017
Southeast750.5831219782017
Pine Bluffs670.4621319772018
Rocky Mountain430.571719882018
Cheyenne Central960.6001519782018
Burns320.600519752018
Shoshoni310.750419822018
Rock Springs820.8001019812018
Laramie690.4001519762019
Riverton560.4551119822019
Cheyenne East780.4671519782019
Douglas840.6671219782019
Campbell County830.7271119862019
Sheridan430.571719992020
Lingle810.889919772020
Thunder Basin010.000120212021
Tongue River140.200519752021
Greybull390.2501219752021
Natrona9110.4502019762021
Riverside330.500619902021
Newcastle430.571719762021
Torrington320.600519782021
Cheyenne South00--0NANA
Upton-Sundance00--0NANA
St. Stephens00--0NANA
Kaycee00--0NANA
Encampment00--0NANA
Farson00--0NANA

–patrick

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