Wolverines gut it out vs. Buffalo

Oct 6, 2013 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

After waiting a day's postponement because of snowy weather, the game started nearly two hours late in Buffalo when officials didn't arrive on time.

BUFFALO -- The Riverton Wolverine football team had to wait a day and then some, but they survived on the road Saturday afternoon with an important Class 3-A East win at Buffalo, 21-14.

The game was postponed from Friday because of bad weather and was supposed to start at 1 p.m. Saturday. Even though the field was ready after 30 community volunteers had brought their four-wheelers and snow shovels to remove snow from the playing surface Saturday morning, the kickoff was pushed back nearly two hours because game officials had not been able to get to Buffalo from Gillette because of closed roads.

"I was boiling mad that there wasn't better communication. Our kids hadn't eaten since 8 a.m., and we had warmed up. We were warmed up and ready to go. Then they tell us the game is delayed. We don't have any food for them. Our coaches went to the convenience store to find some snacks, and some kids went to the concession stand," RHS coach Pat Patterson said.

Finally at 2:45 p.m., after the officials were able to travel to Buffalo via Ucross, the game began.

Riverton moved the ball on its first possession, but Brandon Fullerton's pass intended for Austin Patterson was picked off, and Buffalo marched down the field and threatened to score first.

Despite giving up 317 yards defensively, it was Riverton's defense that kept the Wolverines in the game early.

Facing fourth and goal from the Buffalo 1-yard line, Liam Vincent, Rhett Rogge and Dylan Lewis stuffed Buffalo's Garret Monroe, the game's leading rusher, to put a plug in the Bison's early scoring threat.

It was the first of two huge first-quarter stops for Riverton. The Bison again went for it on fourth and one on their next possession from Riverton's 35, and the interior of the Wolverine defensive line stopped Buffalo's James Musselman on a quarterback sneak.

Riverton was playing without its top two inside linebackers. Top defender Casey Savage, expected to return to action next week after being cleared to play Wednesday was not ready, and Joel Salazar missed the team bus Saturday morning.

"I don't know if (Salazar) was sick. We tried to track him down and that was a concern of mine on the way over here. That killed us, because that is where they ran," Patterson said.

The teams traded possessions, then, after a key Tristan White fourth-down conversion, Fullerton found Ian McMenamy in the back of the end zone with 5:38 left in the second quarter to give the Wolverines their first lead.

After Dietrik Becker blasted the kickoff to the end zone, Vincent stepped in front of a Bison receiver and intercepted Musselman's second-down pass to give Riverton excellent field position at the Buffalo 23.

Five plays later, after calling a timeout and looking at fourth and goal from the 3, Fullerton arched a beautiful pass to Patterson in the back of the end zone for Riverton's second score. Becker added the point-after kick, and the Wolverines were up 14-0 late in the second quarter.

But Buffalo responded to get back in the game when Musselman sprinted through the middle of the Wolverine defense on a 53-yard quarterback draw and touchdown to make the game 14-7 at the half.

The teams slugged it out for most of the second half, and Riverton scored an important fourth-quarter touchdown when Fullerton, Riverton's defensive point leader on the day, intercepted a tipped pass from Christian Schultze that was high, and dashed 36 yards for an insurance score that Riverton would need.

The Bison had just substituted Schultze, a sophomore, in at quarterback for that series.

"It wasn't because of performance. He (Musselmann) had bumps and bruises. He's a tough kid ,and we got him back in the game," Buffalo head coach Rob Hammond said.

Buffalo continued to fight, and with just a minute left to play, Musselman found Monroe for 51-yard middle screen and score.

With Wolverine coaches calling for the "hands" team, Buffalo tried to pooch an onside kick just over the Wolverine line, but T.J. Turner caught the kick over his shoulder, turned, did a somersault, and finally landed to preserve the win for the Wolverines.

"I'm really proud of the kids. They stepped up and filled in where they needed to. Today was kind of a lateral move. The good thing is it was a win, and we pulled it through. That's critical," Patterson said.

Up next for Riverton (3-2, 2-0 Class 3-A East) is a Friday Homecoming match against Torrington.

Riverton 0 14 0 7 -- 21

Buffalo 0 7 0 7 -- 14


Second quarter

RHS - 5:38, McMenamy 11-yard pass from Fullerton, Becker PAT, 7-0

RHS - 2:46, Patterson 5-yard pass from Fullerton, Becker PAT, 14-0

BUF - 0:15, Musselman 57-yard run, Hengel PAT, 14-7

Fourth quarter

RHS - 3:23, Fullerton, 36-yard interception return, Becker PAT 21-14.

BUF - 0:59, Monroe 51-yard pass from Musselman, Hengel PAT, 21-14.

Rushing -- RHS White 19-65, Fullerton 12-15, Rogge 1-6, Patterson 2-2, Lewis 2-6. Totals 36-89. BHS Monroe 22-140, Musselman 14-14, Schultze 1- W22;6, Filbert 12-70. Totals 49-218.

Passing -- RHS Fullerton 9-16-2 94. Musselman 4-10-1 99, Schultze 0-1-1 0.

Receiving -- RHS Hartbank 4-31, McMenamy 2-10, Patterson 2-26, White 1-26. BHS Monroe 1-49, Hengel 1-11, Gilbert 1-10, Jenson 1-29.

Defensive leaders -- RHS Fullerton 25 (points), Herbst 19, Voncent 15, Reinig 13, Richmond 13, Rogge 11. BHS Musselman 25, Jackson 12, Leibee 13, Gilbert 11.

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