By Jeff Gayle
The opening coin toss that was deferred to the Grapeland Sandies by the hometown Buffalo Bison was one of the few bright lights for the Sandies on Friday.
The Class 3A Bison (3-0) took a turnover and turned it and many other Sandie miscues into a dominating 51-12 victory at Bison Stadium.
After Rodney Davis returned the opening kickoff to the Sandie 36, the Sandies' day went downhill. QB Rick Frauenberger tossed a quick slant to Davis for 12 yards and while struggling for yardage Davis was stripped of the ball and the Bison recovered at the Sandie 38.
The defense, led by senior linebacker Dustin Ackley, held Buffalo to a fourth down but QB Colton Green rushed in for the TD. After a blocked PAT the Bison led 6-0 with 8:40 in the first quarter.
Starting at their own 26 after the kick, Davis caught a 20-yard pass but once again was stripped of the ball and the Bison were in business at the Sandie 45. They quickly scored on a pass and Green ran the 2-point play for a 14-0 lead with 5:11 in the first.
After the kick the Sandies started at their own 38. After a quick hitter for 12 yards to Davis the Bison were flagged for one of their 11 personal fouls with a facemask call. Frauenberger quickly hit Riley Chipman with a short pass that he turned into a twisting 37-yard TD. D. Ackley's kick failed, making the score 14-6 Bison at 4:23 in the first.
Ackley kicked deep to start the Bison at their 26. The defense stiffened at the Sandie 29 and Grapeland took over on downs, but after being held by the big, quick Bison defense the Sandies punted. Frauenberger boomed a long punt to the Bison 32 but the Buffalo offense quickly moved downfield to score and added the 2-point PAT.
Starting at their own 32 the Sandies moved downfield with passes to Josh Ackley and runs by Brayden Cheatham. On third-and-long a very late hit on Frauenberger gave the Sandies a first down but the drive stalled and the ball went over on downs at the Bison 30.
Green moved the Bison quickly downfield and passed 30 yards for the TD. The missed PAT made it 27-6 with 9:16 in the first half.
Starting at their own 31, the Sandies moved downfield. Davis caught a quick 11-yarder and another very late hit on Frauenberger gave the Sandies another first down. After Chipman caught a pass to the 21, the drive stalled and once again the ball went over to the Bison on downs at their own 30.
On the first play Green passed deep to Montano for the 70-yard TD. The PAT made the score 34-6 with 5:00 left in the half.
The Bison then surprised the Sandies with an onside kick that the home team recovered at their own 49. Green quickly moved them downfield and scored on a keeper. The PAT shocked the Sandie crowd into silence with a 41-6 score with 3:36 left in the half.
After the kick a deep pass by Frauenberger was intercepted and the half ended with the Bison up by 35.
After a failed onside attempt by Grapeland to start the third quarter the Sandie defense stiffened and Chipman recovered a fumble at the Sandie 38. Chipman caught a pass for 14 yards but once again the Sandies turned the ball over on downs. After another defensive stand, a messed up punt attempt by Buffalo set up the Sandies at the Bison 24.
After another personal foul on the Bison, Frauenberger dropped back and hit Josh Ackley in stride for the 37-yard TD. The PAT failed and the score stood 41-12 with 2:00 left in the third.
After the kick the Sandie defense once again stiffened and sacked Green on fourth-and-long but a facemask penalty gave the Bison new life and Green scored again on a keeper. The PAT was good, moving the score to 48-12 to start the fourth quarter.
After starting at their own 30, Frauenberger hit freshman Keriun Davis for a 65-yard pass that was brought back on a holding call. On a punt by the Sandies, Ashton Henry was targeted for a very unsportsmanlike hit that knocked him out of the rest of the game. The player was penalized but in this writer's opinion should have been tossed out. This was number nine of Buffalo's unsportsmanlike calls.
The teams traded possessions for the next six minutes where the Sandie defense did a good job of holding the high-powered Bison offense.
After a long punt set up the Sandies at their own 9, Frauenberger lost the ball on a scramble and the Bison took possession at the Sandie 8. Once again the Sandies held and on 4th-and long the Bison settled for a 30-yard field goal with 2:52 left.
After another Sandie offensive turnover following the kickoff, the Sandie defense held again to end the game on a high note with a sack by Dustin Ackley.
Frauenberger finished the night completing 17 of 37 for 252 yards with two interceptions.
This was a tough game with very few highlights for the Sandies. Coach Wayne Mahaffey said after the game, "We managed to survive."
"We need to get better fast," said Mahaffey. "We have a lot of work to do next week to get ready for Colmesneil."
There were two more Sandies injured in this game-- juniors Ashton Henry and Aaron Davis to go along with already out senior linebacker Kamari Smith. Only Smith at this time is ruled out of this week's game.