What a difference a month makes.
After getting past Wheatland 24-14 in early October, the Buffalo High School Bison football team steamrolled the Bulldogs 50-7 Friday night at Mike Moon Field to advance to the 2A state Championship Saturday in Laramie where they will face Mountain View.
After a scoreless first quarter in blustery, wet conditions, the Bison reeled off 29 unanswered points in the second quarter and 21 in the third to send a senior-laden Bulldogs team packing.
“Our offensive line probably played the best we had all season,” coach Rob Hammond said. “And we looked faster maybe than we had all year.”
That speed was far too much for the Bulldogs.
Rowen Ruby gashed the Wheatland defense for 228 yards on 16 carries. And the Bison defense that allowed Bulldogs quarterback Colton Caves to rush for 125 yards last month held him to 26 yards Friday night and practically nothing in the first half.
It may have been the biggest speed differential between the Bison and an opponent all season. Bison backers on defense and offense made it seem like Wheatland was running in slow motion all game long.
“The last game against Wheatland, Rowen wasn’t at full speed,” Hammond said. “It was his first game back after breaking his hand and it was still sore. This game he was hitting the holes at full speed.”
Ruby was in the Wheatland secondary in a flash and had little trouble juking Bulldogs defensive backs and screaming downfield for big gains.
Ruby got the scoring going early in the second quarter on a 17-yard touchdown run after a solid drive to put the Bison up 7-0.
Moments later Ruby burned the Bulldogs defense for a 53-yard touchdown sprint. The two-point conversion made it 15-0 Buffalo with 9:15 to go in the second.
“Rowen wasn’t even making a move until he got to the second level of the defense,” Hammond said. “Everyone is worried about the speed of Cody Milmine, but Rowen is just so fast on the football field.”
Just as the Bulldogs were trying to adjust to the speed of the running backs, Dawson Hatch got free downfield and burned the Bulldogs for a 42-yard touchdown catch from Luke Glassock.
Milmine showed off his wheels on the next Wheatland possession with an interception and long return to the Bulldogs 3-yard line.
Hyrum Hatch took it from there to make it 29-0 Buffalo heading into the break.
Ruby started out the third quarter squirting through a hole for a big gainer deep into Wheatland territory. Glassock then found Dawson Hatch again for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Dawson Hatch would follow that up with an interception to set the Bison up at the Bulldog 31. Ruby then found a hole up the middle and raced 31 yards for the score to make it 43-0.
Glassock ended the scoring for Buffalo later in the third with a backbreaking 75-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The win will pit the Bison against the Mountain View Buffaloes for the 2A state championship game in Laramie. Kickoff will be at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Mountain View had a big comeback victory Friday night against Glenrock Friday to make the title game.
“They are similar to us. They spread it out, but use only one back,” Hammond said. “They will run a little more out of the spread. They are going to make some plays. One missed tackle or a bad angle and they can be gone.”