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Bulletin photo by Jessi Dodge Buffalo High School sophomore Eli Patterson snags an interception before being quickly tackled by a Green River player on Friday evening, Sept. 10, 2021 for a close 20-19 win. The fourth quarter interception returned the energy to Buffalo and returned the ball to Bison possession for the remainder of the game.

The Buffalo High School football team doubled last season’s win total Friday night and moved to 2-0 on the season after defeating the Green River Wolves 20-19. 

“After thinking about it the entire weekend, I was just really proud of how well our team responded,” head coach Rob Hammond said. “That would have been pretty easy for them to fold. I think a lot of teams would have folded.” 

As they did in the week one game against Newcastle, the Buffalo offense came out strong and moved the ball well, but the Bison came up empty-handed thanks to a blocked field goal and fumble on Green River’s end of the field.

“There’s some of the things that we can control,” Hammond said. “You know, as far as the fumbles that we had, those are just basic mistakes. They weren’t really caused by Green River as much as we just didn’t execute some simple ball security things.”

Despite the turnovers from the offense, the Bison defense held strong for much of the first quarter — forcing two straight three and outs — but the Wolves eventually broke through and took a 6-0 lead with just under two minutes to go in the first quarter. 

On the following offensive drive, senior Ben Camino appeared to tie the game for the Bison with a nearly 80-yard touchdown run, but the play was negated by a holding penalty at the line of scrimmage — which would plague the Buffalo offense throughout the contest. 

After continued strength on the defensive side of the ball in the first half, Camino — the Bison’s offensive star this week — got Buffalo on the scoreboard with just under four minutes to go in the second quarter to take a 7-6 lead. 

“(Camino) ran really well; it was obvious to everybody who saw the game,” Hammond said. “You know, he was really decisive.” 

Buffalo opened the second half with a strong stop on defense, and continued solid runs from Camino on the next offensive drive led to an eventual touchdown and a 14-6 Buffalo lead just five minutes into the second half. 

The momentum seemed solidly on Buffalo’s side after the touchdown, but Green River responded quickly with a touchdown of its own and then blocked a Buffalo punt less than two minutes later, leading to another touchdown and a 19-14 lead with a little over three minutes to go in the third quarter. 

“We just stopped and I brought the whole team together, and I just pointed out that Green River didn’t do anything to get the lead. We made a mistake and we gave them the ball at the 6-inch line,” Hammond said. “... I just let them know that we’re fine. They weren’t in control of the game, and we were, and if we just cleaned it up, we were going to be okay. And, you know, they listened and they responded.” 

The Bison then held the ball on offense for nearly five minutes, methodically moving down the field and scoring just over a minute into the fourth quarter to take a 20-19 lead after a failed two-point conversion attempt. 

In the remaining 11 minutes of the game, the Bison defense kept the Green River offense at bay— aided by a missed field goal attempt — and sophomore linebacker Eli Patterson came up with the decisive interception on the Buffalo half of the field with 1:49 left in the game to seal the Bison win. 

Now sitting at 2-0, Buffalo is looking ahead to a road matchup against 3A No. 2 and defending state champion Cody at 6 p.m. Friday, which Hammond said will be a good test for the young Bison team. 

“We’re gonna go over there and no matter the end score, we’re gonna learn a lot about ourselves,” Hammond said. “It’s the last nonconference game, and this is a chance to really get better and then set ourselves up for conference. So I think our kids are excited to play Cody.” 

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