HICO — When No. 11 Buffalo visited No. 1 Midland Trail Saturday afternoon, the game had all the makings of a Class A slobber knocker.
That is exactly what the limited fans in attendance witnessed.
In a throwback game dominated by defense, Buffalo made the biggest play of the game to earn a 7-0 win over the Patriots in double-overtime.
"I was thinking the whole time, what I was going to say if we came out and played that hard and something happens and we lose," the emotional Buffalo coach, Brian Batman, said. "I struggled with that because it's tough. To see the kids battle with their backs against the wall several times, but keep battling and battling, then to pull out the win on top of it, that is really special."
The Bison threatened to score throughout the game, only to be their own worst nightmare, coming up empty.
"We made some mistakes, had crucial penalties and we had some kids open on passes and just didn't execute," Batman said. "You have to be resilient enough to overcome those things and thankfully we were today."
That offensive frustration changed on the first play of the second overtime when quarterback Jackson England dropped back, looking for David Whittington, who was one-on-one on the outside.
"It was a hitch and a (vertical)," Batman explained about the play call. "My receivers kept telling me we had hitches all day. I thought, let's start off with a hitch. They loaded up the box on us and we couldn't run the ball at all. So, we ran the hitch and (Jackson) throws it to the (vertical). I was thinking, oh gosh."
On a 50-50 ball in the end zone, Whittington used his body to make the play of the game for the visitors, gathering in the pass for the only score of the afternoon.
"David is a basketball player and he is used to getting up in traffic with bodies," Batman said.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, struggles in the trenches stymied their high-powered offense all game.
"We watched them on film and we knew their defense was really good," Midland Trail head coach Frank Isaacs said. "I thought our offense was better or ahead of where they were. (Buffalo) came out today and played really well. They were more physical. I have said it all along, if we are not as physical or more physical than our opponent, we are going to lose. That is what happened."
Trail had a couple of great scoring chances slip through its fingers in the contest.
A mishandled snap on a punt late in the third quarter gave the Patriots the ball just inside Bison territory.
A 17-yard run from Chris Vines and a 21-yard run from Robert Ruffner helped Trail move the ball inside the Buffalo 10-yard line.
The Bison defense stiffened and on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Trail was stopped just short of the end zone.
"I am going to take this one on me," Isaacs said. "This one is my fault. We should have won that game. I should have kicked that field goal. I just felt like we were on the 2-yard line, let's go ahead and push it in. That should be what we can do, but we didn't."
Trail again moved the ball inside the Bison 10-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
After gaining a first down with a gutsy fake punt on fourth-and-12, Vines found Ayden Simms for 28 yards to the Bison 5-yard line. However, the Bison defense again stiffened and forced a field goal that slid wide-left.
"The (defense) has played really well all year," Batman said. "Take out the Poca game, our defense has allowed one touchdown all year. I returned 10 starters on defense, so we felt that unit could be pretty special."
The road gets no easier for Midland Trail, who will now host No. 3 Greenbrier West Friday.
"It is going to be awesome. Greenbrier West has kinda taken that place of Valley and Fayetteville as a rivalry for us," Isaacs said. "It is exciting. They have talked their trash and I know I have talked too much. I have said all along that Greenbrier West is probably the best (Class A) football team in the state. It should be a really good game. I still feel we are one of the top teams in single-A."