The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

October 6, 2012

Storm takes down Buffaloes

GEORGETOWN —  Coming off a tough loss to the Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils on Sept. 21 left the Salt Fork Storm with a bad taste in their mouths. Not only was it the first time the program had been defeated by Bismarck-Henning in 15 years, they had a bye week to let the feelings of dejection build up.

Fourteen days passed between games, and instead of showing signs of rust against the Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman Buffaloes on Friday, the Storm responded with conviction and a determination to not let the rare loss define their season.

As a result, Salt Fork picked up its fifth win of the season, and showed its coaches a resolve that proved even if they are unable to secure their fifth Vermilion Valley Conference title, the Storm (5-1 overall, 3-1 in the VVC) are determined to finish their season with purpose.

“Coach (Brian) Plotner had kept talking about the turning point, the time when our team finally turns the corner and gets to where we want to be,” Storm defensive lineman Alec Dutton said. “We definitely came into tonight wanting to hit the point, and we definitely feel like we are about there.”

Salt Fork defeated Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman 33-7, and used its defense to ensure the Buffaloes — which had previously scored less than 30 points only once this season — couldn’t find the end zone.

Despite Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman’s Troy Rodriguez finishing with 102 yards, the Buffaloes managed only 124 yards of total offense. Buffaloes sophomore quarterback Rylee Goodwin entered the contest as the VVC’s second-leading passer having completed 26 of 38 attempts for 457 yards in four games, and receiver Ryan Berry (also second on the conference’s leader board) had 14 receptions for 287 yards.

On a sloppy field, though, Goodwin completed only one of his four attempts. Two of the other three found the hands of Salt Fork defenders, and the lone completion was secured by Brady Herrin.

“They did a nice job shutting our run down,” Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman coach Josh Cavanaugh said. “There were a few times when we just couldn’t get Berry loose. They were double-covering him most of the night, and we couldn’t get things done.”

The Storm struck first on a seven-yard run by Spencer Berenz, who also scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but the Buffaloes responded by taking advantage of a short field and capped a 28-yard drive with a nine-yard run by Goodwin. That was all the offense Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman would manage, though, as Salt Fork scored 26 unanswered points en route to the win.

The Buffaloes appeared to be on their way to another touchdown at the end of the first half, but Dutton snagged his first career interception and returned it 65 yards to the end zone to shift all the momentum in the Storm’s favor.

“It was big,” Dutton said. “It was the momentum-shifter, really. We were kind of on our backs and Georgetown got the ball back. Luckily, Drew (Collom) came in there and got the hit, and then I saw the ball in the air, grabbed it, and took off.”

As key as the interception return was, Salt Fork wasn’t done with big plays. Quarterback Taylor Kirby faked a handoff on a second-and-20 in the third quarter, and sprinted 45 yards to put the Storm up 21-7. Then, with 20 seconds remaining in the contest, and the outcome ultimately decided, defensive lineman Max Stutsman received a gift from Goodwin, and ran 36 yards for Salt Fork’s fifth touchdown of the game.

“They’ve played pretty solid all year,” Plotner said of the Storm’s defense. “I think they were motivated. I think our whole team was motivated after the loss to come back. There were a lot of doubters around the area and the state as far as where we’re at. Without (linebacker Steven) Meade, I think a lot of people consider it (difficult to compete defensively). But these kids have got a lot to play for, and I think they proved tonight that they can still be a good football team and hopefully a tough out in the playoffs.”

The Buffaloes (5-2, 3-1) had plenty of hype to overcome, finally being able to play on their home field, using the game as their homecoming celebration, and picking up their sixth win which would guarantee a playoff spot. They were also playing to remain undefeated in the VVC with a crucial contest next week looming against the undefeated Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils.

But just as the entire season had been filled with uncertainty, the Buffaloes received more bad news just prior to kickoff when their starting center was injured during warmups and could not compete.

“I think we were (excited to finally play at home), but when you lose one of your starting linemen at the front, it freaked everybody out,” Cavanaugh said. “I think that caused us, really, to not play the way (we should have). We just did not play very well.

“It was very fortunate that (Salt Fork) made those plays. I don’t want to say they were lucky plays, they were opportunistic. I give them a lot of credit. They played well, and they shut our run down early.”

The Storm will next host East Central while the Buffaloes attempt to rebound on the road against Bismarck-Henning.

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