Wahama tops Buffalo 41-13, finishes 10-0 in regular season
MASON - Wahama's starters hadn't played four quarters very often this season because most of their games were one-sided. So there was some question as to what the White Falcons would do if they had to play an entire game.
At least on Friday, that question was answered.
Fullback Zack Wamsley ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries and the White Falcons shrugged off a slow start to rack up a 41-13 victory over Buffalo in a matchup of top-10 Class A teams.
The verdict allowed Wahama to post its third consecutive 10-0 regular season and extended its regular-win streak to 31 games. It will ensure the White Falcons of a high seed when the final playoff ratings are determined late tonight.
Halfback Kane Roush ran for a score for the White Falcons and helped break the game open in the second quarter with an 85-yard kickoff return for a TD.
"Big plays on special teams always help change the momentum,'' said Wahama coach Ed Cromley.
The White Falcons, who entered the game No. 3 in the Class A ratings, have played only two games this season decided by fewer than 27 points, meaning their first-stringers haven't had to play more than two or three quarters most nights. That didn't seem to bother them against the Bison (7-3), the state's No. 10 team.
"We might not have the toughest schedule,'' Wamsley said, "but we work very, very hard in practice and we have really good coaches who prepare us in practice for what the opponent is doing. And we fight until the very last quarter.
"We hate to lose down here. Every win means a lot.''
The Bison was almost assured a playoff spot before the game, but now must wait to see how far it will drop in the ratings.
Buffalo was able to move the ball quite well much of the night, finishing with 18 first downs and 337 net yards, but was bogged down by two lost fumbles and 13 penalties for 119 yards.
Quarterback Levi Jordan, a four-year starter, hit on 17 of 22 passes for 196 yards for Buffalo, and completed nine in a row at one point in the second quarter. He ran for one score and flipped a screen pass to Jordan Tucker that went 16 yards for a first-quarter TD.
"They threw screens that were tough for us to cover,'' Cromley said, "and some dump passes. We didn't get our linebackers into the play in the first half, and that's what kept their offense moving.''
Buffalo held the lead twice in the first half, but the White Falcons rallied to go in front 27-13 at the break.
The Bison racked up 13 first downs on its first three possessions of the first half, two resulting in touchdowns. The other drive ended at the Wahama 35 when Tucker fumbled at the end of an 11-yard reception.
Wahama took the lead for good at 14-13 when Roush brought back a kickoff 85 yards for a score and Wamsley tacked on the extra point.
Buffalo picked up a first down on its next drive with a 12-yard pass to Isaiah Robinson to its own 40, but the play was negated by a penalty and the Bison eventually had to punt. The White Falcons took that possession 55 yards for a score, a 4-yard Wamsley run with 1:06 left before halftime.
Disaster struck the Bison on the ensuing kickoff as Gabe Garrison fumbled it away at his own 31, giving Wahama a short field. Trenton Gibbs cashed in the chance when he dropped to pass from the 13, rolled left and scooted into the end zone with 16 seconds remaining to the half.
Buffalo lost two senior starters in the first half. Lineman Jared Smith was ejected late in the first quarter for getting into a scuffle and receiver Garison Erwin left after taking a blow to the head when catching a pass in the second quarter. In the third quarter, lineman Ryan White left following a frightening collision with Wahama running back Crandale Neal.
"We got one of our best players thrown out at the beginning of the game,'' said Buffalo coach Mike Sawyer, "and another one hurt and another one concussed. So we were out three starters. But our kids played hard. This is a good team, and we did the best we could with what we had.''
One area in which the Bison had success was keeping Roush contained on scrimmage plays. He came into the game averaging 19 yards per carry on the season, rushing for 1,155 yards and 15 TDs. On Friday, he ended with 93 yards on 18 carries, with a long of 20 yards and only three carries better than 8 yards.
"He's a pretty good back,'' Sawyer said. "You don't average 20 yards a carry unless you're doing something right, I don't care who you played.''
Gibbs, playing on his birthday, threw for one TD and ran for another for Wahama. The White Falcons finished with 342 yards on 51 rushing plays and 380 yards total.
For Buffalo, Garrison caught four passes for 63 yards and Laythen Good ran 11 times for 48 yards and hauled in seven receptions for 77 yards.
The game was played in something resembling dusk, since four light poles weren't operating on the visitors side, leaving the Buffalo sideline in constant dimness.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.