FARWELL - Bucktail really could not have started out last night's homecoming game against Columbia Montour Vo-Tech much worse than they did. Offensively, their first couple of drives saw three dropped passes and a fumble on a reverse.
Defensively, it took the Rams just three running plays to cover 58 yards and take a quick 8-0 lead over Bucktail - a team that started just two seniors due to injuries.
It wasn't pretty by any means. But in the end, the Bucks proved up to the task and gutted out a win. A win that came down to the final minute of play to lock up.
"These are the games where you have missed blocks, dropped balls, complete mental breakdowns and yet you stick together to win a game," head coach Bruce Ransom said. "Against a team such as CMVT, who we respect very much and who always fields a good team, we're very happy to get out of here with a win."
In fact, Bucktail rode waves of big plays when players got hot and rode their points of momentum all the way to the end.
Bucktail trailed 8-0, when Brian Long recovered a fumble after Chuck Probst leveled the returner and knocked the ball loose.
Quarterback Ryan Bratton found Chuck Probst and Demetri Probst on a pair of clutch pass plays, before Chuck Probst subbed in at quarterback for a play, and ran into the end zone for a three-yard TD run.
Bratton took another turn with a hot hand, when Bucktail came out trailing 8-6 in the third quarter. The senior QB threw a perfect over-the-shoulder pass to Willie Hopkins, with all 37 yards of the play coming from the toss.
Bucktail's starting tailback Aaron Ransdorf had to leave the game momentarily, and big brother Long was called on by Ransom to enter the backfield. Long would haul in two Bratton throws while filling in, including a 15 yard reception that put the Bucks up 12-8.
With just under five minutes left in the game, the Rams would put on their longest drive of the game. Starting on their own 3-yard-line, CMVT drove the ball down to Bucktail's 15-yard line, setting up a 4-and-5, with 53 seconds remaining.
Bucktail guard Colton Risley, who already picked up a sack and three tackles for losses during the final drive, helped preserve a Bucktail victory.
As Rams QB Dillon Harkin rolled right, he found Risley in his face about to take him down for a sack. Harkin threw up a desperation toss, but it went into the arms of Bucktail's Hopkins - who had nothing but 85 yards of space between him and a touchdown ending return. Bratton added the two-point conversion on a run to set the 20-8 score.
Bratton would finish the night 5-of-19 with a touchdown and an interception, while Ransdorf's 10 carries and 35 yards led the Bucks on the ground in the offensive struggle.
Colton Risley finished with 15 tackles, including the sack and had a fumble recovery. Trent Risley's five punts averaged 50 yards, a big factor in such a defensive battle.
"You know things aren't going well when you put a guard in to make a touchdown catch," Ransom said of the Long TD, "but again, these are character moments in games like these. Colton was huge for us as well, there were plays where he simply could not be blocked."
The win puts the Bucks to 2-1 on the season.