MCALESTER- The Grove Ridgerunners’ hopes of an upset in their first round playoff matchup with the McAlester Buffaloes ended almost as soon as the game began Friday night.
The Ridgerunners fumbled the ball away on two consecutive kickoffs to start the game, and three of the first four, as the Buffaloes jumped out to a 25-0 lead on their way to a 39-20 win.
The Ridgerunners, who finished the season with a 7-4 record, turned the ball over five times on the night, a number eventually matched by the Buffaloes, but it was what McAlester did with those turnovers that made the difference.
That part of the equation was handled by McAlester quarterback Tony Kiefer and wide receiver Adam Boyd. The duo accounted for five of McAlester’s six touchdowns on the night, with Boyd catching 12 passes for 109 yards and running five times for 40 yards. Kiefer ran for 101 yards on 26 carries while also throwing for 220 yards. McAlester converted those five turnovers into 25 points.
Kiefer put the Buffaloes (10-1) on the board early after Grove fumbled away the opening kickoff. Taking over at the Ridgerunner 25, Kiefer ran the ball four straight times before Boyd finished the drive with a two-yard run to put McAlester up 6-0.
After Grove fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Buffaloes took over at the Grove 26. Four plays later, Kiefer snuck in from the one to make it 12-0 three minutes into the game.
McAlester would take advantage of good field position again, taking over near midfield after a failed fake punt attempt by Grove on a fourth-and-three. Kiefer would find Boyd five times on the drive with short passes, including one from five yards out on fourth-and-goal to extend McAlester’s lead to 18-0 with 7:31 left in the half.
Grove would again fumble away the ensuing kickoff and the Buffaloes recovered at the 35. Kiefer then found Boyd over the middle for a 28-yard gain before taking it in himself from five yards out to make it 25-0.
Grove would finally get on the board late in the first half after a diving interception of a Boyd pass by Cameron Smith. The Ridgerunners would pull a trick play out of their hats, as Maples took the pitch on a hook-and-lateral play to gain 17 yards to the McAlester 16. Two plays later Maples would score from three yards out to make it 25-6 at the half.
After Steffenson was sacked in the end zone for a safety on Grove’s opening possession of the third quarter, the Ridgerunners put together their best drive of the game. Taking over at their own 23 after a McAlester punt, the Ridgerunners used a mix of runs and passes to move crisply down the field in 11 plays before Steffenson, who completed four straight passes on the drive, finished it off with a two-yard touchdown run. Steffenson then added a two-point conversion run to make the score 27-14.
But that would be as close as the Ridgerunners would get, and a Steffenson interception on a screen pass was returned for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make the score 33-14 and effectively finish Grove’s 2010 football season.
Steffenson finished the game with 124 yards passing and two touchdown runs. The Buffaloes racked up 407 yards of offense, only the second opponent to gain that many yards on the Ridgerunners this season. Maples finished with 83 yards rushing on 19 carries.
The Buffaloes will travel to Lawton to take on MacArthur on Friday.