By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
GALLATIN - The East Buchanan football team had visions of scoring a lot of points Saturday.
After being held to just 21 total against Mid-Buchanan the week prior in the district championship, the Bulldogs wanted to have one of their 40, 50 and sometimes 60-point outputs they were posting in the regular season.
Gallatin's defense, and a strong, cold northwest wind, prevented such an explosion, but East Buchanan (12-1) scored a key touchdown midway through the fourth quarter and shut Gallatin out in the second half in a 14-6 win at Bulldog Stadium in Gallatin in a Class 1 state quarterfinal game.
Not the most conventional way to win, perhaps, but that doesn't exactly matter when it's win or go home.
"It wasn't quite the way you draw it up," East Buchanan coach Dan Ritter said on KFEQ Radio after. "We kind of had it in our head that we'd come out and score about 45 points on their 4-3 (defense) and that just wasn't the case. Trevor (Klein) was a little under the weather with an ankle injury. That's no excuse, we couldn't get anything going, but our defense really stepped up."
After East Buchanan punted on its opening drive, Gallatin got in the red zone and made it all the way to the East Buchanan nine-yard line, but Gallatin was faced with a fourth down.
Gallatin brought on senior Draven Wright to attempt a 26-yard field goal. The ball went high in the air, well over the short uprights, but the officials ruled the kick was no good - just off to the left.
Later in the first, East Buchanan was gifted a starting field position at the Gallatin 37, but on the first play of that drive, a fumble by Aidan Hensley was recovered by Gallatin's Keegan McBroom.
Gallatin took over at their own 40 and scored six plays later. Senior Payton Feiden scored on a one-yard touchdown run, but Wright's point after missed just shy of the crossbar, making it 6-0 Gallatin with 10:13 left in the second quarter.
East Buchanan answered with a long, 12-play drive - only for it to end with a turnover-on-downs. Gallatin went three-and-out shortly thereafter, and East Buchanan was set up at their own 47 after a short punt.
In the closing minutes of the first half, East Buchanan moved 53 yards on seven plays. Junior Trevor Klein found the end zone on a eight-yard touchdown run, and senior Alec Hesson's kick was good, giving East Buchanan a 7-6 lead at the break.
Gallatin got the ball to start the second half, but had to punt it away after just six plays. Both teams struggled to finish drives in the third quarter, as East Buchanan turned it over on downs on each of their first two possessions in the second half.
After Gallatin turned the ball over on downs on their own side of the field, East Buchanan took over at the Gallatin 48 with 6:43 to play.
In a matter of one play and eight seconds, Klein raced his way to the end zone on a 48-yard scramble, and the Bulldogs went up 14-6 with 6:35 left.
Operating with just one timeout, Gallatin got a drive going late and got into East Buchanan territory, trying for a potentially game-tying score, but Wright lost a fumble, which was recovered by junior Wyatt Parker.
The Bulldogs kept the ball on the ground, achieving three first downs to run out the final 3:38 on the clock.
"We were just able to take care of (Gallatin) today," Ritter said. "I know they came and were ready to go. They had a great game plan for us, obviously, holding us to 14 points."
Klein finished with 189 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns. Senior Adam Stephen-Enges made big plays throughout, catching five passes for 93 yards. Junior quarterback Gage Busby was 9/14 for 135 yards.
"A win is a win no matter what," Stephen-Enges said. "Doesn't matter how we come out here and do it in these conditions. It's hard. It's hard to come out here and catch the ball and run the ball and hold onto it. There were a lot of turnovers and that's what won us the game."
Wright led Gallatin with 82 yards rushing on 21 carries. Junior quarterback Payton Baker completed 4-of-10 passes for 86 yards. Senior Peyton Feiden finished with five carries for 39 yards and a score.
Gallatin ends its season at 11-1 - the best season for the red and black Bulldogs in modern history under legendary coach Chris Holt.
East Buchanan improves to 12-1 with its 11th straight win, as the blue and gold Bulldogs are in the state semifinals for a second consecutive season.
East Buchanan heads back to Gower Saturday to host Duchesne (8-4) at 1 p.m. - now just one win away from a return trip to Faurot Field in Columbia.
"For us to go out there as a new team and to just keep going, I mean that's incredible," Stephen-Enges said. "We did great things last year, but...it's amazing to back there."
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.