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Playoff rematch for Buffalo, Wahama

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Buffalo had about half the game plan it needed to hang with unbeaten Wahama last week.

Owing to a quirk in the Class A playoff scheduling, the No. 14 seed Bison (7-3) gets a do-over tonight when it travels to Point Pleasant for a rematch against the No. 3 White Falcons (10-0). Kickoff is set for 7:30.

Buffalo took the lead twice in last week's regular-season meeting at Wahama, but the White Falcons used a recovery of a fumbled kickoff return to bunch three touchdowns into the final 4:45 of the first half and take a 27-13 lead. They eventually won 41-13.

"We're just going to have to not give up so much yardage,'' said Bison coach Mike Sawyer. "We'll correct the defense a little bit and try to get a little bit tougher. Our defense was good at times, but we helped a lot of their drives continue.''

Buffalo was flagged 13 times last week for 100-plus yards in penalties, including five pre-snap infractions on linemen. Wahama's relentless ground game also eventually wore down the Bison and wound up with 342 yards on 51 carries, led by 145 yards and two touchdowns by fullback Zack Wamsley.

One area in which the Bison defense excelled was in controlling elusive halfback Kane Roush, a 1,000-yard rusher who was averaging 19 yards a carry before the last meeting. He was limited to 93 yards on 18 attempts.

Of course, that chore could prove difficult without perhaps Buffalo's top lineman, senior Jared Smith, who was ejected in last week's game and must sit out tonight's contest. Another senior starter, No. 2 receiver Garison Erwin, is questionable with a concussion suffered last week.

The Bison might lean a little more on senior quarterback Levi Jordan, who makes his 35th straight start under center. Jordan completed 16 of 20 passes for 201 yards and a TD last week and ran for another score.

Wahama, meanwhile, doesn't have to worry about what happens if its starters again need to play four quarters. The White Falcons, who have had just two games all season decided by fewer than 27 points, did just fine in that respect a week ago.

"This time of year, the heat's not a factor,'' said White Falcons coach Ed Cromley. "We condition during our practices, and I wasn't really concerned about that a whole lot.

"We're pretty physical, and that takes a lot out of you. As far as [opponents] being in better shape than us because they've had to play full games more, our physicality takes some of the pep out of their step.''

For many of the White Falcons players, including Wamsley, nothing short of a return trip to Wheeling Island Stadium will do. Wahama fell to Wheeling Central 28-14 in the 2010 state title game.

"There's nothing really mentally or physically [in our way],'' Wamsley said. "I mean, as long as we can keep it within ourselves. We believe that the only people that can beat us is us.''

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.

 


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