Alter High School senior running back Tommy Ruff wore a smile from ear-to-ear.
After two years of heartbreaking losses in the first round of the playoffs, Ruff and the Knights are heading into week 12 after a 34-21 win over Cincinnati Wyoming at Ed Rousch Stadium on Friday.
“This is awesome,” Ruff said after rushing for 75 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Knights into a Division IV, Region 14 semifinal matchup against Valley View next week. “After playing and losing in the first round the last couple of years, this is a new experience for me and it feels great.”
Alter churned out 360 yards rushing and turned a 21-14 lead at the half into a 21-point lead with 11:53 left in the game.
“It was a methodical process for us,” Alter coach Ed Domsitz said after his team improved to 10-1. “We knew they could move the football and if we didn’t make mistakes, we would be OK. But we made some mistakes and made it more difficult for us.”
Wyoming (8-3) took advantage of Alter’s first turnover of the night — a fumble on the opening kickoff — in taking a quick 7-0 lead. Alter, however, responded with a 10-play drive capped by a 17-yard run by Ruff. Kraig Howe forced the lone Cowboy turnover on the second play of the ensuing drive with an interception, and it took just two plays before quarterback Dusty Hayes busted into the end zone for a 14-7 lead.
Alter built the lead to 21-7, but Wyoming scored as time expired on a flea-flicker to cut the deficit to 21-14 at the break.
“You could implode after that (the fumble on the opening kickoff) or the score at the end of the half,” Domsitz said. “But we maintained our poise and didn’t let it destroy everything we have worked for.”
Alter scored on its second and third drives of the second half to put the game away and erase the memories of the past two years.
“This feels great,” Ruff said. “It is always hard going out in the first round and we really wanted it this year. The underclassmen feel like they are more a part of things this year and this was highly important to us.”