Buffalo coach Ed Phillips has been right about a lot of things this year, but no “righter” than last week when he said School of the Osage was a lot better than its 1-8 record showed. 

In fact, the seventh-seeded Indians led the second-seeded Bison 22-21 before Jamen Smith scored a touchdown from the one-yard line with only 30 seconds left on the clock. Fortunately, Buffalo was able to pull out a 27-22 victory in the opening game of the Class 3, District 5 Tournament at Southwest Baptist University.

“They played a lot of good teams and lost some close games,” Phillips said.

Buffalo will host third-seeded St. James this Friday, Nov. 2 in the district semifinals at SBU. St. James defeated sixth-seeded Owensville 14-6 last week.

Right before Smith’s TD run, a huge play took place. Buffalo faced a third-and-10 at the Osage 17 with 57 seconds left. The Bison ran a quarterback draw play right up the middle to the 1-yard line and a first down.

“The play was perfectly executed,” Phillips said. “We spread out and went empty in the backfield, the offensive line down blocked and left a big hole for Jamen to run through.”

Offensive linemen don’t get much recognition because they don’t have any stats, but Phillips said the linemen have gotten better and better and have been a major reason the Bison have scored 36 points per game.

“Without them, the offense doesn’t work,” he said.

The center is Evan Potter, the right tackle is Cody Smith and the right guard is Hunter Crandall. The left guard is Lane Collamore and the left tackle is Levi Kenady.

The situation looked strange in the opening quarter when Buffalo had trouble moving the ball and Osage took a 14-0 lead. Well, actually the Bison moved the ball well on their opening possession -- from their own 31-yard line to the Osage 48, but then the Indians recovered a Bison fumble.

Osage took only three plays to travel 43 yards, and the second play was a 34-yard jaunt by quarterback Dalton Depee, who was the Indians’ stud on both offense and defense.

“He was all over the field all night,” Phillips said.

The Indians scored on an 8-yard pass play to lead 6-0 with 8:43 remaining in the first quarter.

Following a Bison three-and-out, Osage put together a 98-yard touchdown drive, climaxed by a 4-yard run by Depee and a two-point conversion pass from Depee to Traygen Whittle for a 14-0 lead with just 43 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Bison finally got their act together and scored on an 11-play, 60-yard drive, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Buffalo was helped by a helmet-to-helmet penalty and later a personal foul. Still, the Bison faced a fourth-and-14 situation at the Osage 15. This was solved when Coltin Henderson jumped high to catch a pass in the end zone from Jamen Smith. Bode Abraham’s PAT kick was good, so the Bison trailed 14-7 with 9:37 left in the half.

Two plays later, Buffalo recovered a fumble and converted that into a 65-yard TD drive, climaxed by a 3-yard run by Jamen Smith. This time Abraham missed only his second extra-point kick of the year, so Osage led 14-13 at the half.

Buffalo went ahead for the first time on a seven-yard run by Bradley Hosiner with 7:43 left in the third quarter. The Bison also converted a two-point conversion for a 21-14 lead. They were supposed to kick the extra point, but the ball was snapped low. Henderson, the holder, picked up the ball and ran to the right, but there were two Indians waiting for him. He quickly turned around and tossed the ball to Abraham, who had a clear path to the end zone.

“When something goes wrong like that, Henderson is supposed to throw the ball to one of two guys who were supposed to be in the end zone,” Phillips said, “but they weren’t there.”

Osage went back in front 22-21 with 1:02 remaining in the third on a 2-yard run by Depee and a successful two-point conversion. 

Neither team was able to score in the fourth quarter until the Bison’s heroics in the waning seconds of the contest.

Jamen Smith completed nine of 16 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown, plus he had one pass picked off.

Hosiner was the leading receiver with three catches for 53 yards while Layton Moody caught two passes for 22 yards and Haydon Gray had two receptions for 22 yards. Henderson caught only one pass, but it was 14 yards for a TD. Levi Phillips caught one pass for three yards.

Jamen Smith carried the ball 27 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns as he approaches nearly 1,400 yards on the year. Henderson ran the ball 10 times for 39 yards; Keaton Rackley six for 26 yards and Hosiner four for 32 yards and a TD.

On defense, Brandon Griffin had a monster night with a phenomenal 19 tackles, followed by Hosiner and Ethan Smith with 10 each. Rackley and Henderson added 9 each while Derek Smith had six tackles and Hunter Crandall added five.

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