There’s no place like home, and following Friday night’s 55-20 homecoming victory over Jordan High, Tooele football fans and players would likely agree.
The Buffaloes stumbled out of the gate early, as a fumble on the game’s opening kickoff gave Jordan a golden opportunity with a short field on the team’s first drive. Although Tooele made several stops and a near goal-line stand, the Beetdiggers willed their way into the endzone after a 3-yard touchdown to put them up 7-0 in the first quarter.
Jordan’s pressure continued after the first in the form of a strong run, with a 10-yard rushing touchdown stretching the lead 14-0.
Only three minutes into the second things looked bleak for Tooele after having been held off the scoreboard for the majority of the first half. Then, with five minutes left, the Buffaloes turned things around.
A five-play scoring drive, highlighted by an imposing Buffaloes drive of its own, was capped off by Max Fowles’ four-yard-run across the goal line to bring the deficit to 14-7. On the night, Fowles recorded 70 yards on 15 carries to contribute to the team’s push to get back into the game.
Things began ramping up from there, when a 35-yard interception return by Aaron Davis set the team up for a one-yard touchdown run on the ensuing play. Tooele’s kicker missed the point after, however, allowing Jordan to take a 14-13 lead into the locker room.
Special teams were an issue for the Buffaloes throughout, as the onside-kick fumble and failed PAT conversions cost the team 10 points.
Over the remainder of the game, head coach BJ Hunter felt his team made changes to stay disciplined and not panic.
“Jordan’s onside-kick recovery gave them momentum early,” Hunter said. “They onside every kick they had until the end and we did a better job with the others.”
In the third quarter, Fowles scored another rushing touchdown ahead 19-14 gave Tooele its first lead of the game. Jordan managed to return the favor with six points of its own, on a 20-yard passing touchdown and retake a 20-19 lead, but the rest of the game belonged to the Buffaloes.
Junior Vaughn Gritzmacher helped the Buffaloes pull away, posting a 56-yard rushing touchdown to extend the team’s lead to 27-20. Of his three carries on the night, Gritzmacher ran for 72 yards.
Noticeably absent from much of the game was starting quarterback Kaden Dean, who sat out for two quarters stemming from an altercation during Tooele’s game against Hillcrest on Sept. 15.
When Dean did make it into the game in the fourth quarter, he ran in a 2-yard touchdown of his own to bring the score to 41-20. Hunter said Michael Lewis, who filled in for Dean, did an excellent job running the offense.
“We settled down and Lewis did an excellent job running the offense for 4 quarters, while Kaden was out,” he said.
Running back Britton Rosser helped pile on the points, as well, scoring three of Tooele’s final four touchdowns. Rosser finished the game with 151 yards on 14 carries, to lead his team in rushing.
When all was said and done, the Buffaloes walked away with a 55-20 margin to earn a third victory in the 4A Region 10. With the win, the team holds a 3-4 record and remains in second place behind the undefeated Park City Miners.
The team takes to the road this Friday, facing the 1-6 Murray Spartans in their third-to-last game of the regular season.