There was no stopping the Buffalo stampede Friday as Tooele ran all over Cyprus to win the season opener 31-6.
“Starting off with a win, 1-0 is a great upside for us, it gives us a lot of confidence,” said Tooele head coach Kyle Brady. “We’ve had some troubles getting the win at the first of the season and it’s kind of dictated the way we play for the rest of the season. Hopefully this puts us on the right track to go out and compete with the top teams in our region and hopefully the top teams in the state.”
Running backs Ryan Brady and Nate Reynolds combined for 243 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Tooele was dominant from the beginning, forcing the Pirates to a three-and-out on their first possession and scoring on the fourth play of the second Buffalo possession: Ryan Brady scored from four yards out to give Tooele a 7-0 lead after senior kicker Jordan Shields hit the point-after attempt.
“It being wet, you can’t really throw the ball as well,” Ryan Brady said. “The linemen did a great job making great holes and they blocked downfield quite a bit, so that was a great job by them.”
The Buffalo special teams broke down on the ensuing kickoff. Cyprus do-it-all man A.J. Semeatu slipped a couple tackles and got around the kicker for a 92-yard kickoff return. The Pirates were down 7-6 after an unsuccessful point-after attempt.
They never scored again.
Tooele’s defense held strong the entire game, allowing 129 yards of total offense. Senior Nick Schwartzman led the team in tackles with nine, three of which were for a loss.
“I was really happy with our defense,” Kyle Brady said. “Our D-line is doing an excellent job. That’s what I thought was going to be one of our strengths coming into the year and I definitely think they played well tonight.”
Ryan Brady capped off a 14-play drive that ate up 65 yards with a 3-yard run in the second quarter, putting Tooele up 14-6.
Quarterback Jake Brady pushed his way in behind the line to give Tooele the 21-6 shortly before halftime.
“We have a really good running offense and that’s what we’re built off of,” Jake Brady said. “I think our backs play an important role in our offense and that’s a big thing that helped us this game.”
Cyprus came out swinging on the first possession of the second half. Quarterback Hunter Jacketta connected with Semeatu out of the backfield for a 43 yard gain through the air to get the Pirates into the red zone for the first time in the game.
Jacketta handed off to Semeatu to let him finish the drive on the ground, but the running back fumbled the ball away to Tooele around the 17-yard line.
“Those four up front did a great job,” Ryan Brady said of his defensive line. “Our backers filled the holes really well. We are stacked on defense.”
After another 14-play, 14-run drive, Tooele had to settle for an 18-yard field goal by senior kicker Matthew Lozano.
The teams traded punts and fumbles on the next few possessions, and by then the Tooele lead was too much for Cyprus to overcome, especially when the Pirate long snapper heaved the ball over Semeatu’s head before a punt deep in Cyprus territory. What resulted was a minus-12-yard punt that led to Reynolds’ only touchdown of the game, a 7-yard dive play up the middle to make it 31-6 shortly before the game ended.
“I feel like it sets off a pretty good tone because now we’re starting to get that winning mentality back at Tooele,” Ryan Brady said. “It hasn’t been like this for a long time.”
With the win, Tooele avenged a 30-point loss to Cyprus from last season and are 1-0 for the first time since beating the Pirates by one in the 2005 season-opener.
Cyprus will face an 0-1 Hillcrest team that lost to Salem Hills in the first game of the season; That contest is Friday in Cyprus.
Tooele will next face Grantsville on the road in a Tooele County rivalry showdown.
“Grantsville’s going to be a good team that we’ve got next week.” Kyle Brady said. “They’re always tough in the rivalry game, so we’ve got a little momentum unlike we’ve had in the last few years.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’ll be a bloodbath,” Ryan Brady said. “They always are. It’s a rivalry. If we win that game, it’s going to be great for the community. We haven’t beat a rival for I don’t even know how long.”