BLOOMSBURG-Not many schools start quarterbacks who are former guards. Not many schools use those same quarterbacks to return kicks and punts.
But there was Trent Risley on Saturday at CMVT's Wen Cerra Memorial Field, fielding a punt at the Bucktail 30-yard line, busting out of traffic, taking advantage of a crushing Brandon Payne block and going 70 yards for a third-quarter touchdown.
This is Bucktail football. The Bucks almost always have fewer than 30 players per year, but they adapt, embrace versatility and play hard. They also win.
Risley scored three times and totaled 237 all-purpose yards while Aaron Ransdorf ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns Saturday as Bucktail defeated CMVT, 33-18 and won its second straight game. It was another step forward for the Bucks (2-2) who have only 28 players this season, but who are seeking their fourth straight playoff berth.
"I know we're a small school and we can only get a few kids to play but the kids that do it love the sport," Risley said. "I love the sport and everyone contributes something."
"Everyone supports football up there. Everyone loves football," Ransdorf said. "That's something the whole town takes pride in."
Bucktail overcame a sluggish start and scored 33 points over the final three quarters after falling behind 6-0 early in the second. CMVT limited Bucktail to minus-18 yards on its first nine plays, but the Bucks line took over from there as Bucktail gained 264 yards and scored four times after that.
Everything changed when Ransdorf broke loose for a 45-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. CMVT jammed the middle, but Ransdorf broke a tackle, moved outside and outran the defense down the left side line. Risley hit Aaron Kelly with a 2-point pass a play later and Bucktail never trailed again.
"They had the middle pretty well stacked so I tried to get outside and had room to run," Ransdorf needed. "We have a pretty good line and I felt good having them in front of me."
Tony Saltsman did an excellent job freeing Ransdorf on off-tackle runs and opened up the middle. Center Dalton Louey owned that space and helped free Risley for two long touchdown runs. Risley ran for 106 yards and scored on runs of 31 and 52 yards. His keeper late in the second quarter gave Bucktail an eight-point halftime lead and his 52-yard burst untouched up the middle made it 20-6 early in the third.
Risley might have been Bucktail's most valuable player when the offense was struggling, booming three long punts that averaged 49 yards. Those punts gave CMVT longer fields and the defense a chance to keep Bucktail in it.
Risley proved just as effective on the other side of those punts. Two Rams had Risley hemmed in on his return for a touchdown, but he broke a tackle, reversed field and exploded down the left sideline after Payne made his terrific block. The electrifying return put Bucktail up 27-6.
"I try to be a leader, but we definitely have great athletes on the team and they take control too," Risley said. "We practice hard every day. Every day we keep going at it and try to get better and better."
CMVT pulled within 27-18 early in the third quarter on Tristan Starr's 3-yard run but the offensive line and Ransdorf put the game away. Bucktail covered 58 yards on eight straight runs. Ransdorf, a 5-foot-8, 150-pounder who plays much bigger, broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage before speeding away for an 11-yard touchdown, his fourth in two games.
Ransdorf and Risley ran hard and the line of Saltsman, Louey, Payne, Kelly, Matt Bingaman and Ryan Prebble blocked hard. Bucktail scored on four of its last six possessions and averaged 10.2 yards per carry during that span.
"We get as much out of them as we can and they give everything they have," Bucktail coach Bruce Ransom said. "We did a couple things we feel good about in terms of running the ball. We were able to shift and get the alignments we wanted and it showed."
The defense allowed only 66 first-half yards and contained CMVT's running game. Brad Kile had eight tackles and an interception while sophomore lineman Brice Cannon also had eight tackles. Collin Spencer and Payne both had sacks and Risley made a big fourth-down stop in the third quarter before scoring on his 52-yard run two plays later.
Bucktail won its third straight against its biggest AAFC rival. The numbers remain low and the odds long, but Bucktail keeps finding ways.
"To be 2-2 after two tough games to start the season we're happy. We feel pretty good," Ransom said. "Last year was barnbuner with these guys. This is why you have rivalries and this is our rivalry in our league and that's what makes it nice."
Bucktail0 14 13 6-33
CMVT0 6 6 6-18
C-Justin Andreas 6 pass from Dylan Larkin (run failed), 9:50
B-Aaron Ransdorf 45 run (Trent Risley pass to Aaron Kelly), 6:04
B-Risley 31 run (pass failed), 2:01
B-Risley 52 run (pass failed), 10:55
B-Risley 70-yard punt return (Tony Saltsman kick), 8:20
C-Chris Zanolini 23 run (run failed), 1:36
C-Tristan Starr 3 run (pass failed), 9:59
B-Ransdorf 11 run (pass failed), 4:48
TEAM STATISTICSB C
First downs10 12
Passing Yards19 85
RUSHING: Aaron Ransdorf 16-133, 2 TDs; Trent Risley 11-106, 2 TDs; Brad Kile 2-0; Team 1-(-3); Willie Hopkins 1-(-9). CMVT, Chris Zanolini 30-105, TD; Tristan Starr 10-61, TD; Nick Kocan 5-17; Dylan Larkin 3-(-13).
PASSING: Bucktail, Risley 1-3-0, 19 yards. CMVT, Larkin 5-9-1, TD, 85 yards.
RECEIVING: Bucktail, Hopkins 1-19. CMVT, Kocan 2-35; Justin Andreas 2-34, TD; Colton Appleman 1-16.
RECORDS: Bucktail 2-2, 1-2 AAFC. CMVT 0-4, 0-1.