VIENNA, W.Va. - It took just one play to alter Buffalo's season-opening game against Parkersburg Catholic Saturday night - the opening kickoff.
The Bison lost starting quarterback Austin Hensley to a shoulder injury on the first play and the Crusaders took advantage with a balanced ground game to hammer out a 42-12 victory at Jackson Middle School.
Six different players scored on rushing touchdowns for Catholic, which amassed 269 yards on 47 carries. Quarterback Payton Sturm led the way with 79 yards on 12 attempts, including a 24-yard scoring burst.
"We've been working hard this past month, working on executing,'' Sturm said. "[Buffalo] put it to us tough last year, so we wanted to come out and play a good game, play our kind of football, and that's what we did.''
The hard-luck Bison saw Hensley hurt himself making a tackle on Nick Roedersheimer, who brought back the opening kickoff 40 yards to the Buffalo 47. That stuck sophomore Ty Smith under center right from the start, and the Bison's first four possessions were a litany of mistakes with false starts, bad pitchouts and fumbled snaps.
"It affected us big-time because our second-team quarterback doesn't know the offense like [Hensley] does,'' said Buffalo coach Mike Sawyer. "I was hamstrung with what I could call.
"But you can't blame injuries. The kids just didn't play. Our linemen didn't block nobody, we didn't tackle anybody. All three phases of the game we didn't do a good job, and I'll take the blame for it. We've got a lot of young kids, but we've got to grow up quick.''
Besides Hensley, the Bison also lost senior receiver-wingback Gabe Garrison in the first quarter after his balky knee flared up, and offensive lineman Zach Boyer left the game with a leg injury late in the second quarter. Also, defensive back Isaiah Robinson departed several times with leg cramps on the humid evening, as did linebacker Nick Lovejoy, who had a second-quarter interception.
All of that helped the Crusaders vault into a 14-0 lead eight minutes into the game and stretch it to 22-6 at halftime.
Catholic didn't even attempt a pass in the second half, ripping off 25 straight running plays with a variety of backs. Jake Boice added 74 yards on 13 totes and Ryan Schriner 55 yards on 11 attempts. Each added a TD.