BUFFALO, W.Va. -- With both teams needing a win to get their season turned around, Poca ground out a victory over Buffalo, coming away with a thrilling 32-28 decision Friday night at Bison Field.
Poca (1-2), playing with a mix of experienced and new players at the skill positions, managed just enough of a rushing game to rally from a 10-point deficit in the second quarter, using four different running backs to stay with a very determined Bison team.
"We basically made some big plays in the fourth quarter,'' said Poca coach Bob Lemley. "We moved some guys around at halftime on defense and I challenged our guys to play with more enthusiasm and more effort and I believe that showed in the second half.''
Buffalo (0-3) also relied on a heavy ground attack with junior tailback Jordan Tucker carrying 34 times for 313 yards. Coming off a 54-16 loss last week to River View, the Bison controlled the offensive line in the first half as Tucker churned out 8- and 10-yard chunks of yardage around Poca's defensive line.
"We just kept over-pursuing on defense, so we shifted our tackles out a little wider and told our defensive line to not let him keep cutting back on us and it worked pretty much," Lemley said.
Poca led off the scoring on an opening six-play, 58-yard drive when Justin Stewart found the end zone around left end for 6-0 lead. Buffalo quickly answered with a 65-yard drive of its own when Tucker pushed across the goal line from 1 yard out. Tucker displayed his speed by carrying nine of the 10 plays on the drive, often outsprinting the Poca defense on the corners.
The scoring continued back and forth throughout the game until the Dots, coming off a close 21-14 loss last week to Nicholas County, found enough offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter to finally take the lead. Stewart scored on a 15-yard run with 9:30 to play.
"We are getting better but we are still somewhat limited with what we can do on defense with our young guys," said Bison coach Mike Sawyer.
Buffalo began its final fourth-quarter drive on its own 20, using Tucker nearly exclusively. It used up seven minutes driving the ball to the Poca 30, but fell short after an unsportsmanlike conduct call moved it back to the 45 with just under two minutes remaining. A failed screen pass turned the ball over on downs for the Bison.
"In the second half, they took away our outside running game so we tried to do some things different inside but we just couldn't do what we needed to do," Sawyer said.
For the Dots, Stewart finished the night with 141 yards on 4 of 7 passing and one interception. T.T. Loudin was held to 70 yards rushing on 12 carries.
For Buffalo, freshman fullback Jacob Hanshaw added another 56 yards on seve carries. Sophomore quarterback Ty Smith completed 3 of 8 for 35 yards.