BUFFALO - No way Buffalo was going to squander good field position two straight times.
Bubba Legg burst 35 yards on a fake-punt play midway into the third quarter Friday night and it set up a touchdown that gave the host Bison just enough cushion as it held on for a 23-21 revenge victory over Wirt County in a matchup of Class A playoff contenders.
"We needed that one,'' said Buffalo coach Mike Sawyer. "A big win here in about the middle of the season. That helps us a lot because we've got a few tough games left, and we need every one we can get.''
Buffalo, which normally rides the efforts of all-state quarterback Levi Jordan, leaned on its defense and some timely offensive plays much of the way. Jordan did throw for one TD and booted a 36-yard field goal, but finished just 8 of 17 passing for 115 yards.
Wirt County (4-2), tied for eighth in the Class A playoff ratings, certainly made it interesting at the end. Trailing 23-14 with just over two minutes left, the Tigers drove 96 yards for a touchdown with 58 seconds remaining, but Bison lineman Lucas Jividen recovered the ensuing onside kick to ice it.
No. 12 Buffalo (5-1) led at halftime 16-14 and looked like it might break the game open when Wirt failed on a fake-punt pass at its own 46, giving the Bison great field position to start the third quarter.
Only the Bison went three-and-out and booted it right back. Wirt didn't do much with the ball, and its ensuing punt was shanked out of bounds after going just 14 yards to its own 43. Again, Buffalo looked ready to waste another opportunity when it lined up to punt the ball away on fourth-and-8 from the Tigers 41.
But this time the snap went to Legg at an upback position and he rambled 35 yards to the 6. On the next play, Jordan Tucker took a sweep to the end zone to make it 23-14.
"That's the first time we ran it all year,'' Legg said of the fake punt. "It really worked, but I don't look for us to run it too much any more because I have a feeling [opponents] are going to be concentrating on it. But I'm glad we ran it, and it sort of broke us over, got us more fired up than we would have if it didn't work.''
Sawyer said assistant coach Jimmy Tribble suggested the fake punt.
"The time before when we punted, we wanted field position,'' Sawyer said. "Coach Tribble saw that it was open, and the next time we went with it and it worked for us. We work on our special teams every day in practice and we take a lot of pride in them. If we didn't work on it, we probably wouldn't have done it. We have confidence in them.''
Buffalo was content to keep it conservative the rest of the night, punting nine times in all, playing defense and getting after Wirt sophomore quarterback Josh Trembly.