558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Cowboys come up short against Buffaloes
Crook County battles back from early deficit to take fourth quarter lead, but then falters down the stretch
A host of Crook County defenders stop Ethan Short for a small gain. Madras went on to win the game 33-21.
November 05, 2012
A slow start proved costly to the Crook County Cowboys as they fell 33-21 to the Madras White Buffaloes in Friday night Class 4A play-in action.
“I’m proud to be a Cowboy,” head coach Ryan Cochran said following the game. “Hey, seniors, I’m sorry that it had to end like that. I love each and every one of you and I’m proud of you.”
The game was a rematch of a contest earlier in the year which the Cowboys won 60-52. Although Friday’s game wasn’t as high scoring, it was just as close.
Minutes before the start of the game, the skies opened up and a steady rain started falling on the field, making conditions difficult for both teams.
Crook County received the opening kickoff, but was unable to move the ball. On their first two plays, the Cowboys jumped offsides leaving the team with a first and 20 deep in their own territory. Then on their first play from scrimmage, the Cowboys’ Joe Saenz pitched the ball to Brandon Zemp, who looked like he had all kinds of running room down the left side of the field. However, the two were able to connect and Zemp bobbled the pitch. Madras recovered the ball and scored three plays later as Joe Hisatake ran off the right side for a for a one-yard touchdown run.
The White Buffaloes attempted an onside kick, and the Cowboys recovered the ball on the 50 yard line. However, once again Crook County fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Madras recovered.
“We came out and shot ourselves in the foot pretty hard with fumbles and penalties,” Cochran said.
Unlike the first turnover, this time the Cowboy defense came up big. The Crook County defensive line was able to put pressure on Madras quarterback Steele Haugen, who fumbled the ball. Crook County recovered the fumble, and quickly took advantage of the opportunity.
With Marcus Greaves and Dean Smith doing most of the damage, the Cowboys quickly moved the ball down the field. Saenz finally scored on a 10-yard quarterback keeper four plays after the fumble recovery and the game was tied 7-7 with 44 seconds left in the first quarter.
The tie didn’t last very long as Madras took the ensuing kickoff and went on a drive of their own. With Haugen passing the ball to Devin Cecilani and Jack Fine, the White Buffaloes marched quickly down the field, scoring on a 14-yard pass from Haugen to Cody Shepherd.
The Cowboys were unable to move the ball on their next possession and were forced to punt. Madras took over on their own 25-yard line.
Once again, the White Buffaloes were able to quickly move the ball up the field.
Six plays later, Haugen hit Fine in the end zone for an apparent touchdown. However, the play was called back because of a chop block. After the penalty, Madras was unable to move the ball and Crook County took over on downs.
Crook County quickly moved the ball down the field, gaining huge yardage on a pair of runs by Greaves and Zemp. When the drive stalled on the 27-yard line, the Cowboys attempted a field goal, but Edgar Toledo’s kick sailed to the left and the White Buffaloes still led 14-7.
The White Buffaloes moved the ball up the field to the Crook County 45-yard line before fumbling the ball. The Cowboys recovered and once again ate up big chunks of real estate with their potent ground attack.
Then came the turning point of the contest.
Greaves broke free around the left side and appeared to be on his way to a touchdown. However, a Madras defensive back made a diving tackle on the 20 yard line. Greaves dislocated his shoulder on the tackle and fumbled the ball. Cecilani picked the ball up on one bounce and ran 79 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
The play killed the Cowboys’ momentum and gave the White Buffaloes a 20-7 lead going into the half.
With field conditions deteriorating and the Crook County defense making adjustments, the White Buffaloes were not nearly as effective passing the ball in the second half.
Crook County stopped Madras on their first possession of the half and then quickly drove down the field scoring on a 20-yard run straight up the middle by Smith. Toledo kicked the extra point and the Cowboys were back in the game trailing 20-14.
The Cowboys stopped Madras again on their next possession and went on another long drive. Colbran Meeker finally punched the ball across the goal line for the Cowboys on the first play of the fourth quarter with an eight-yard run. When Toledo made the kick, the Cowboys led 21-20.
“I was proud of the team’s effort in the second half,” Cochran said. “We came out and played hard.”
The Cowboys appeared to have stopped Madras again on their next possession. However, a personal foul on Crook County kept the drive alive. The Cowboys appeared to stop the White Buffaloes again, then were called for pass interference. Several Crook County coaches left the sidelines protesting to no avail that the ball was tipped. Madras took advantage of the call and two plays later Hisatake punched the ball in from the five-yard line giving Madras a 26-21 lead.
On their next possession, the Cowboys moved the ball to their own 44-yard line, then made the decision not to punt on fourth down and less than a yard to go. The Madras defense made a huge stop and took over on downs.
The White Buffaloes took advantage of the good field position, scoring two plays later on a four-yard Hisatake run. Neither team was able to score the remainder of the contest as the White Buffaloes held on for the win.
“You worked your tails off,” Madras head coach Rick Wells told his team following the game. “You never quit. You persevered, and you prevailed.”
The White Buffaloes did much of their offensive damage through the air. Haguen was 19-25 passing the ball for 206 yards with Fine catching seven passes for 113 yards.
“The guys believe in Haguen,” Wells said. “They know that everything is going to be OK because he’s in there.”
In addition to his three touchdowns, Hisatake, who did not play against the Cowboys earlier in the year, carried the ball for 82 yards.
By contrast, the Cowboys finished with 283 yards of total offense, with 264 of that coming on the ground.
Zemp finished with 70 yards rushing, while Greaves added 62 — all in the first half.
The Cowboy defense was led by Gunnar Crawford and Clay Coffman who finished with 12 and 11 tackles respectively. Aaron Swindle and A.J. Cooper also played strong defensive games with eight tackles apiece.
The Cowboys finish the season with a 5-4 record, while the White Buffaloes move their record to 6-4 and advance to the first round of the playoffs where they will face No. 1-ranked Scappoose.
“We’ve got a huge game coming up against an amazing team,” Wells said. “But these kids aren’t done, so I’m not done. We are going to bust our butts all week and we are going to get it done.”
Meanwhile, the Cowboys are left wondering what might have been.
“I’m sorry it ends this way,” Cochran told his team. “You can sit and mope or you can pick yourself back up and keep truckin’. Whatever you do, compete. Tonight is tough, but I’m still proud to be a Cowboy.”
Then Smith spoke for the rest of the team captains.
“I want to thank you for trusting me to help lead this team,” he told the underclassmen following the game. “Next season, you juniors need to step it up and carry the team. Don’t miss a day. It’s so important. It prevents injuries. It makes you stronger. It makes you ready. I’m going to be there watching and I love you guys.”