Coming off their first win of the season last week, the Tooele Buffaloes looked to defeat the Cedar Valley Aviators on Homecoming Night on Friday.
Things started off rocky early for the Buffaloes, as a bobbled kickoff return led to a deep first down. Then, on their opening drive, Tooele fumbled the ball at their own 12-yard-line. Setting up a favorable field position for Cedar Valley.
Following the fumble, the Aviators capitalized on the deep field position and scored a touchdown to go ahead 7-0 early.
During the ensuing drive, Tooele redeemed itself for the moment, knotting the game up at seven after Buffaloes running back Wesley Tso marched the ball down the field for a 13-yard touchdown run. The Buffaloes rode the wave of momentum into the defensive end and forced the Aviators to punt on the following drive.
With the ball back in their possession, Tooele’s ground and air game drove the team down the field and propelled them back into the lead. Despite a missed PAT, the Buffaloes went up 13-7 against Cedar Valley.
Following the go-ahead score, special teams proved to be critical for the Buffaloes. After surrendering the lead to the Aviators early in the second quarter, Tooele found itself trailing 14-13.
After struggling to put together any offense on the next drive, the Buffaloes were forced to punt away the ball. Even with a deep kick that pinned Cedar Valley deep in their own end, and a forced punt giving them decent field positioning, Tooele was unable yet again to get back on the board.
Things got worse for the Buffaloes following a Cedar Valley punt. Once the ball got into Tooele’s end of the field, it deflected off a Tooele player and the Aviators came away with the possession after a loose ball scramble.
With the drive starting at Tooele’s 25-yard-line, the Aviators once again capitalized on a Tooele misstep and put up another seven points to extend their lead to 21-13. Unable to put anything together on the next drive, the Buffaloes ran the clock out to end the second quarter.
Both teams headed into their respective locker rooms with the score remaining 22-13 at the end of the first half.
Cedar Valley kept things rolling early in the third quarter, imposing their offense on the Buffaloes in its first drive and extending the lead to 28-13 with a 39-yard touchdown pass. The Aviators did not stop there and went on to score the game’s next 21 points to put the game out of reach for Tooele.
After Cedar Valley’s early third quarter touchdown, the Buffaloes botched the subsequent kick return and were never able to find any footing for the remainder of the game. Failing to convert on a fourth down during the drive, Tooele turned the ball over to the Aviators and gave up another touchdown to trail 35-13 toward the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was even less forgiving of the Buffaloes’ errors, as the team committed another fumble and set things in motion for Cedar Valley to widen its lead even further. After two-straight drives, during which neither team scored, the Aviators posted another seven points to go ahead 42-13.
During its next drive, Cedar Valley punched in one last touchdown in the form of a 53-yard run to put the Aviators ahead 49-13. Tooele was unable to score in the last five minutes of the game and the 49-13 score stood as the final seconds wound down.
One of the brighter stats for the Buffaloes was the team’s rushing game, which handily out performed Cedar Valley 189-62. Third down conversion efficiency was also successful, as the team connected on six of 10 attempts. The game ultimately was lost as a result of turnovers and Cedar Valley’s ability to turn those turnovers into points.
With the loss, Tooele’s record falls to 1-4 and 1-1 in its opening 5A region 7 matches. Up next is a cross-city matchup as the Buffaloes play host to the Stansbury Stallions on Sept. 16. The game starts at 7 p.m.