Shorthanded Bucktail tops CMVT on road
SOUTH CENTRE TOWNSHIP — Bucktail players made their coaches a promise early last week. They kept repeating it as game day drew closer.
Even if it was behind, as long as Bucktail was close in the fourth quarter against CMVT, it would win. One better believe coach Bruce Ransom and his staff refreshed the Bucks’ memories when CMVT opened the fourth quarter protecting a four-point lead.
And Bucktail kept its word.
A team that dressed just 20 players Saturday at Wen Cerra Memorial Field, dominated the fourth quarter, scoring 16 straight points and pulling away for a hard-fought 36-24 win. Tanner Riggle ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns, Liam Dwyer intercepted two passes, Richard Perry accounted for three touchdowns and the offensive line shined as Bucktail (1-1) evened its record and again displayed the program’s trademark resilience.
“Our kids have said all week long if we are close in the fourth quarter we will win,” Ransom said. “They were reminded of it with 12 minutes left and they drove right down the field.”
“We planned for that all week. We knew we might be down but we had to keep fighting,” said Riggle, who helped clinch the game with a 56-yard touchdownn run. “We knew it was going to be tough, but we game plan for this. We condition very well.”
Bucktail has no choice. The Bucks were playing without four starters, but the 20 dressed players still were four more than they consistently dressed a year ago. Despite that, Bucktail still won four games and reached the District 4 Class A playoffs. Bucktail often faces long odds, but has repeatedly produced good teams throughout the 2000s.
Yesterday’s win showed how. This was a quintessential Bucktail win. Despite CMVT nearly having twice as many players, it was the Bucks who owned the fourth quarter as they did in last year’s 22-20 comeback win. Bucktail outscored CMVT, 16-0 in the final 12 minutes and used a seven-play, 53-yard drive that Perry capped with a 1-yard touchdown run to answer after CMVT had scored 16 straight third-quarter points and turned a 12-point halftime deficit into a 24-20 lead. Riggle’s long touchdown capped the next Bucktail drive and two sacks by Nate Gray, as well as a key Liam Dwyer interception clinched the win.
“We’re always facing a bunch of adversity, but I would take our 11 against anybody,” Gray said. “We all believe that. We know we don’t have the biggest numbers, but we do what we do and we can do it well.”
Gray and fellow linemen Alex Intallura, Kenny Winkleman, Josh Lindberg, Gunner Sockman and Cameron Sockman set a physical tone and helped Bucktail score on five of its seven possessions. The Bucks scored on all three first-half series, taking a 20-8 halftime lead and then put together two straight scoring drives after it had appeared CMVT might be taking over the game. Dwyer’s 28-yard catch on a 3rd-and-6 helped set up Perry’s go-ahead score and Riggle’s 56-yard run made it, 36-24.
That play also symbolized why Bucktail was so successful yesterday. Blake Cannon provided a good lead block on the trap while the offensive surged off the ball. Riggle rumbled ahead for five yards and a first down before Winkleman provided a text-book block that allowed Riggle to bounce outside. Riggle took it from there, stiff-arming two defenders, breaking a tackle near the 20 and going all the way. The senior left the field for just three plays yesterday and had a sack, along with six tackles, and that touchdown helped put an exclamation point on Bucktail’s overall performance.
“This just feels so great, especially coming down on a Saturday morning and doing what we do,” Riggle said. “We had a good game plan coming in for sure. We played tough when we had to.”
“We had to take the momentum back. We had it and they took it. It’s a game of ups and downs so we decided we had to take it back and we did,” Gray said. “As a unit we really meshed this game. We knew our assignments, we blocked hard, we kept our feet moving and we had a really good game.”
CMVT ran the ball well throughout the third quarter as Jake Shotwell (164 yards, two touchdowns) frequently burst through outside holes on sweeps. Bucktail, though, adjusted well and clogged those gaps throughout the fourth quarter. Bucktail forced CMVT to throw more and Gray’s third-down sack forced a punt after Bucktail had retaken the lead. A series later, Dwyer intercepted his second pass, all but clinching the win.
Dwyer set up two first-half touchdowns, returning a kickoff 36 yards and an interception 30 yards. His first interception set up an impressive last-minute drive that Perry completed with a 15-yard touchdown to first-time starter John Francis as Bucktail built a 20-8 lead. Perry also capped Bucktail’s opening drive, a 14-play, 6 minute, 36-second statement series with a 1-yard run. Riggle went 24 yards for a touchdown on Bucktail’s next possession as it regained the lead, 12-8.
Riggle also had a first-half sack that ended a promising CMVT drive. Freshman Zach Pick was all over the field, making a team-high 11 tackles and Winkleman, Intallura and Gray all had seven each.
Bucktail has little time to savor Saturday’s strong performance. The Bucks play again Wednesday when they host Pottsville Nativity.
“This was a lot of fun. It got our spirits up,” Gray said. “We hadn’t won a game yet this season and now that we have that monkey off our back it’s a big momentum boost.”
Bucktail 36, CMVT 24
Bucktail 6 14 0 16–36
CMVT 0 8 16 0–24
B–Richard Perry 1 run (pass failed), 1:03
C–Jake Shotwell 15 run (Cole Simpler pass to Michael Starr), 10:32
B–Tanner Riggle 24 run (pass failed), 8:45
B–John Francis 15 pass from Perry (Perry pass to Liam Dwyer), :45.7
C–Simpler 2 run (Shotwell run), 5:50
C–Shotwell 11 run (Simpler pass to Caleb Dawson), 2:31
B–Perry 1 run (Blake Cannon run), 11:56
B–Riggle 56 run (Perry pass to Cannon), 5:42
TEAM STATISTICS B C
First Downs 13 19
Rushes-yards 33-210 42-264
Passing yards 91 40
Comp-Att-Int 4-8-0 3-14-2
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 5-35 7-42
RUSHING: Bucktail, Tanner Riggle 8-107, 2 TDs; Blake Cannon 14-66; Richard Perry 7-29, 2 TDs; Devin Serafini 4-8. CMVT, Jake Shotwell 17-164, 2 TDs; Mekhi Mundrick 15-63; Ty Babb 3-24; Cole Simpler 7-13, TD.
PASSING: Bucktail, Perry 4-8-0, TD, 91 yards. CMVT, Simpler 3-14-2, 40 yards.
RECEIVING: Bucktail, Liam Dwyer 2-49; Zach Pick 1-27; John Francis 1-15, TD. CMVT, Michael Starr 2-22; Mundrick 1-18.
INTERCEPTIONS: Bucktail, Dwyer (2).
SACKS: Bucktail, Nate Gray 2, Riggle.
RECORDS: Bucktail 1-1, 1-1 NTL-II. CMVT 0-2, 0-1.