BUFFALO GAP — Facing adversity against a fired-up Buffalo Gap team and a large homecoming crowd, the Stuarts Draft Cougars found a way to win in the second half, defeating the upset-minded Bison 34-21 Friday night.
Trailing 21-20 in the third period, the Cougars scored a pair of touchdowns to pull out the victory and remain undefeated for the season.
“We overcame adversity, we struggled early but Gap was really ready,” said SDHS head coach Nathan Floyd. “We responded in the second half.”
The Bison (3-3) took advantage of some Draft turnovers to pull ahead.
Buffalo Gap started strongly, taking the opening kickoff down the field and surged ahead 7-0 on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Seth Fitzgerald to Bryce Hildebrand. Hunter Campbell booted the extra point and the Bison led 7-0 with 7:04 remaining in the first period.
The Cougars knotted the score near the end of the quarter on a nine-yard run from Blake Roach and Tyler Lingenfelter’s kick made it 7-7.
The two Augusta County rivals matched touchdowns in the second quarter, with Fitzgerald putting the Bison back ahead on a three-yard TD run which was answered by a 38-yard touchdown pass from Henry Cooke to Freddie Watkins for the Cougars.
Stuarts Draft sophomore Aaron Nice, who ran wild all night for the Cougars scored on a three-yard run at the 9:53 mark of the third quarter, but the PAT was wide left, leaving the door open for the Bison.
The Bison turned a fumble recovery by Hunter Campbell into go-ahead points as Fitzgerald ran in from the Draft five and Campbell broke the tie with his third PAT.
But the Cougars took control of the game from that point as Nice put the Draft ahead for good with another TD run and Cooke completed a two-point pass conversion to Kasey Branch for a 28-21 lead with 1:38 left in the third period.
Finally, Roach added an insurance score with 2:17 left in the game to seal the win for the Cougars.
“It’s going to be a dogfight every Friday night,” Floyd said. “I thought we were a little content to start with. We’ve got to come out of the gates better and we will be working on fundamentals.”
Dustyn Fitzgerald was a key factor on defense for the Cougars.
The Bison’s head coach, Brad Wygant was pleased with the effort showed by his team.
“I couldn’t be more proud; we hung in there the whole time,” Wygant said. “The scoreboard doesn’t show the effort we gave. I think that Stuarts Draft will go far.”
The Cougars (6-0) play at Wilson next Friday, while the Bison host Staunton.