Buffs dominate Western Colorado in season opener

The West Texas A&M Buffaloes picked up a statement victory on Saturday night in front of 6,798 fans at Bain-Schaeffer Buffalo Stadium as they accounted for 479 yards of total offense while forcing four turnovers in a 44-6 victory over the #7 Western Colorado Mountaineers.

WT had a special treat for members of BuffNation as they were led on the field for the first time in the history of Bain-Schaeffer Buffalo Stadium by Thunder XIV, one of just two live buffalo mascots in the country.  
The Buffs marched 76 yards down the field on their opening drive as Nick Gerber found Noah Bogardus on a quick screen pass and the senior from Eastvale, California did the rest, taking it 27 yards for the early 7-0 lead. WCU answered with a long drive of their own before the WT defense tightened in the redzone with a pair of hurries by Antonio Iwuagwu to force a 20 yard field goal by Alec Fonseca to cut the lead to 7-3.
WT added to their lead on their next possession as Gerber called his own number and raced down the visiting sideline for a 45-yard score to make it 13-3. The Buffs made a big special teams play on the ensuing kickoff as Gage Smith connected on a big hit to force a fumble recovered by Carson Otworth, Gerber took advantage of the short field as he found Tyrie Tipton over the middle from four yards out to extend the lead to 20-3.
The Mountaineers were forced to settle for another short field goal on their next drive as the WT defense locked down in the redzone again as a Fonseca 22 yarder cut the lead to 20-6. The Buffs responded again with a long drive highlighted by a Bogardus 50-yard catch to get WT into the red zone, Isaiah Smallwood would finish off the drive from two yards out to make it 27-6.
The Buffs added to their lead at the start of the fourth quarter as Gage Urias connected on a 22 yard field goal to make it 30-6. WT got the ball back quickly as a Moutaineers fumble on a fourth and short saw Jaden Jackson come out of the pile with the ball to give the Buffs the ball in the red zone again, WT turned that into points as Smallwood ran it in from four yards out to extend the lead to 37-6.
WT finished off the scoring late in the fourth quarter as Caleb Arreola found Kenneath Redd Jr. on a crossing route and the junior from Detroit used his speed to go 58 yards for the 44-6 lead.
Gerber finished the night going 15-of-25 for 186 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also picking up 63 yards on eight carries and a score. Jarrod Compton led the Buffs on the ground with 86 yards on 18 carries while Smallwood found the endzone twice on 19 carries for 59 yards.
Defensively, senior Christopher Thomas led the way with 10 total tackles (four solo) to go along with a sack and a pass breakup, LSC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year JT Cavender registered eight tackles followed by Steszewski with seven to go along with an interception.

4 – West Texas A&M picked up a victory on opening night for the fourth consecutive season
8 – Different receivers that caught a pass for the Buffs on opening night, combining for 17 catches and 250 yards and three touchdowns
229 – Yards on the ground for the Buffaloes as they finished the night with 24 first downs on 77 total plays to average 4.7 yards per rush
479 – Yards of total offense for WT with 286 of those coming in the first half

The Buffs hit the road next weekend as they travel to Alamosa, Colorado to take on the Adams State Grizzlies with kickoff set for 7 p.m. CT at Rex Stadium. The Grizzlies fell to Western New Mexico in their season opener on Saturday night in Silver City, 34-20.

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