It was a tale of two different halves Friday afternoon at Muskie Field.
The black-and-gold looked like a team possessed in the first half, and that showed early as they forced the visiting Miles Mac Buckeyes to punt from midfield on their first possession of the game.
Tyler Abma then blocked the punt and rumbled downfield before a touchdown-saving tackle marked him on the one-yard line.
It wouldn’t take long to convert the score, however, as Abma punched it in on the next play to give Fort High an early 7-0 lead.
The momentum was short-lived, though, as the Buckeyes drove downfield on their next drive to score.
A missed convert kept the Muskies ahead 7-6, but the black-and-gold were forced to punt on their next possession and the Buckeyes’ Bryton Balzer found a hole and coasted all the way to paydirt on the return, putting the visitors up 13-7.
The Muskies didn’t wilt, though, getting a 53-yard touchdown run from Abma shortly afterwards to take a 14-13 lead after one quarter.
Hemmed deep in their own end zone early in the second quarter, Balzer (the Buckeyes’ quarterback) was picked off by Muskie quarterback Dan Brunetta (who was playing both sides of the ball), bringing it inside the 10-yard line to set the Muskies up with great field position.
Abma appeared to cross the goal-line two plays later for what would have been his third touchdown of the game, but was called down on the one-yard line.
And that call proved costly as Brunetta fumbled on a quarterback sneak on the next play to halt the Muskie push in its tracks.
The see-saw battle took another twist shortly afterwards when Balzer found Josh Zuniga in the end zone to regain the lead at 20-14.
But on the Muskies’ ensuing drive, Brunetta connected with receiver Britt Green for a 53-yard touchdown pass to give Fort High a slim 21-20 lead at the half.
Green was taken down just as he reached the end zone and had to leave the game with what was diagnosed as a fractured fibula.
The black-and-gold picked up where they left off to begin the third quarter—getting a 98-yard touchdown run from Abma on the first play to send the crowd into an uproar.
But the injury to Green exposed a hole in the defence as Fort High couldn’t find an answer for a Buckeyes’ running game that continued to pound the left side of the Muskie secondary, breaking through for huge gains.
Miles Mac swapped in little-used Jeremy Berthon at running back, who provided more of a finesse attack to up-the-gut starter Michael Rebizant—and the move paid off as Berthon found a hole on the left side in his first attempt and went all the way to the house.
A missed two-point convert on a tackle by Donny Krishka kept the Muskies in the lead (28-26).
Berthon, who had seen limited action in the Buckeyes’ previous four games, exposed the shorthanded Muskies’ defence again on the next drive—once again breaking through the left side and rumbling all the way to the end zone to cap a long drive.
A 50-yard run from Balzer poured salt in the wounds to cap a second half dominated by the visitors, with the final score being 46-28.
Turnovers took the wind out of the Muskies’ sails in the second half, routinely setting up the Buckeyes with good field position.
Perhaps the highlight of the half for the black-and-gold was a catch by Brad McDonald. With a Buckeye clearly interfering, McDonald still managed to catch the ball around the defender’s helmet while being taken to the ground.
The Muskies dropped to 0-5 on the season while the Buckeyes improved to 2-3.
Fort High next takes on Tec Voc this Thursday (Oct. 15) in Winnipeg.