Star Valley’s football team went from not winning a playoff game in four years to hosting two playoff games in seven days on Friday night. In a cold and sometimes ugly outing, the Braves overcame five turnovers to end a four-game losing skid to Buffalo in the post-season, 31-14. The defense forced three turnovers and the offense rolled up 462 yards in the win.
Despite an earlier kickoff time, the temperatures and snow made for some fumbling fingers as each team had two turnovers in the game’s first six minutes. Star Valley capitalized with a 44-yard touchdown on a reverse to Bryan Burton just one play after he recovered a fumble from Buffalo’s Tyler Rogers. Byron Anderson added a field goal for a 10-0 first quarter lead.
The Braves tried to go deep on two occasions with both attempts picked off by Kason Filbert of the Bison. The defense held and the offense scored again on the back of Ryan Brough.
Buffalo kept things interesting with Star Valley looking for the dagger. On the final play of the first half, Trace Haderlie’s pass into the end zone was intercepted by Rogers who returned it over 100 yards for the touchdown and an anxious 17-7 Star Valley lead.
The Braves defense answered the call on the opening possession of the third quarter as Tyler Allred collected an interception which was eventually put into the end zone by Brough after a bizarre series of controversial calls by the officials. Brough scored his third touchdown of the night and his 17th of the season before Buffalo answered. Rogers again got his money’s worth out of Braves Field with an electrifying 80-yard touchdown run to draw Buffalo to within 31-14. The Star Valley running game had over 280 yards and was too much to handle as they salted away the game and the first win over Buffalo since the 1980 state championship.
Kohl Battleson collected his sixth interception of the season, a one-handed grab that stopped a Bison drive. In all, the secondary held Buffalo to just 29 yards on three completions.
Brough finished with 160 yards, putting him over 1,350 yards on the season. His touchdown total is just one off the school record, set in 1962 by Mel Olson. Haderlie completed passes to five different receivers for over 150 yards.
The Braves will host the Cody Broncs next Friday after they shocked homestanding Riverton, 24-17. All four 3A West teams won and advanced into the semi-finals with Powell and Green River matched up on the other side of the bracket.