LOCK HAVEN - When Bucktail met Carson Long in the regular season finale Friday night at Hubert Jack Stadium, you could color the game Red & White from the opening kickoff until the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard clock.
Taking no prisoners, the Bucks completely dominated the Warriors to the tune of 68-3 as they scored in just about every way possible during the rout.
"To be honest about it, we have been a much better team in the second half of the season than we were in the first half," said Buck head coach Bruce Ransom. "We had some injuries in the first half to key players, Matt Horton being one of them. Colton Risley was a little banged up and Larry Green was banged up as well. Overcoming those circumstances, I honestly hope that we qualify for the post-season because right now, we are a good team in all facets of the game."
So dominant were the Bucks that they scored two touchdowns before they took a snap from scrimmage.
Matt Horton began his outstanding night when he returned a Carson Long punt 73 yards to the house for the game's first score before coming up with a "pick six" when he intercepted a David Oliver aerial and returned it 50 yards to paydirt.
Not finished with his first quarter heroics, Horton was again "Johnny on the Spot" as quarterback Ryan Bratton hit the fleet-footed Buck with a 43-yard catch-and-run for the touchdown to complete a 22-point Bucktail first quarter. For the game, Horton finished with four catches for 153 yards and three scores.
"It is just a great tragedy that we didn't have him for all nine games," Ransom said. "Unfortunately we took an early loss to Pius X and that was a game where he could have made a huge difference in the secondary by covering a couple of their better guys. He is a senior, three-year starter back there and he is our cover two man up tight with great closing down speed. He also has good hands and he pretty much showcased everything tonight, but we are also going to need a good effort from him next week if we do make the playoffs."
Carson Long scored their only three points of the game in the first minute of the second quarter when Elliott Wood drilled a 28-yard field goal, but from that point on, it was all Bucks as they rolled to the Mercy Rule win.
Bratton completed six of nine pass attempts for 206 yards and three scores, all three TD aerials coming in the second period. He hit Brad Kile for 41 yards, Horton for 66 more before capping his outstanding period by finding Horton again for a 31-yard touchdown connection.
With his game total, Bratton surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
"He honestly has come into his own," said Ransom of his quarterback. "He has gotten better every single week through the course of the season. He is a first-year starter in there as a senior, but he really, really put in a good off-season. He was at the school every night in the summer and you could see the poise he developed through the season. By mid-season, he was probably as good as anyone in our conference and it showed again tonight."
With the win, the Bucks finish the regular season at 6-3 and now have to wait until Eastern Conference officials sift through several other results to see if their season will continue with a post-season playoff contest.
"It is my understanding either Sayre has to lose to Athens or Northwest will have to lose to Montrose tomorrow (Saturday)," said Ransom. "Now there are some crazy things that could happen with playoff points and things like that, but if one of those two things happen, that should put us into the post-season."
If the Whitetails qualify for the playoffs, Ransom said it doesn't really matter to his team who they would have to play.
"Who we play doesn't really matter," he said. "We will be satisfied to get there and right now, we feel we can put together a good game plan against anyone. We'll see how it goes."