Madras validates season in win over Corbett
In a 35-8 defeat of Corbett on Thursday, Madras proved to itself and supporters that its earlier win wasn't a fluke.
The ensuing weeks after the White Buffalos beat Valley Catholic to end a 23-game losing streak, they came up empty in three tries against Tri-Valley Conference opponents Molalla, Estacada and Gladstone.
Thursday seemed like a great opportunity, then, for the Buffs to conclude their home schedule and send off their seniors with a win.
Madras scored 23 of its 35 points in the second half, with a balanced running game and dependable blocking up front. The defense, meanwhile, save for a couple big plays given up to Corbett in the second quarter, tackled well for most of the evening and pressured the Cardinals into five sacks.
"I was wondering how long we could keep shooting ourselves in the foot and still walk around the field," Corbett head coach Nathan Schmitt said. "They came after us. We had opportunities and they stopped us. We did a lot of good things; we just didn't do all of them in succession."
Madras faced a third and 13 from the Corbett 34 nearing the end of the first quarter. Liam White's pass intended for Harrison Manu was tipped up and behind him, but out of nowhere, Brandon Desjardins reeled in the ball inside the red zone.
The next play, Treyvon Easterling scored the Buffs' first touchdown — a 13-yard run on a direct snap. Two possessions later, after Corbett punted to its own 35-yard line, Madras took all of five plays to find the end zone, this time on an Easterling run from 10 yards out. Easterling finished with 209 yards on the ground.
Holding a 12-0 lead, the Buffs appeared to be rolling, but the next Cardinals possession said otherwise.
Corbett converted a key third and five when Wyatt Brindell received a handoff up the middle and ran eight yards. Kaine Mickalson faked an option run around the right side that drew a couple Madras defenders away from Brindell.
The next play, from the Madras 41, Brindell found a hole in the left side of the line and scurried for 40 yards, coming up just short of the end zone while he was pushed out of bounds. The run set up Cody Burbach's 1-yard touchdown run with 2:18 remaining in the second quarter. On the two-point conversion attempt, Burbach received a toss in the backfield and completed a pass to a wide open Jaguar Super.
"There was the one drive where they scored … But overall, we played much better, we tackled much better," Madras head coach Kurt Taylor said, alluding to last week's loss at Gladstone in which the Buffs struggled to wrap up.
"We flat out told them, 'If you just play your game, and stop worrying about the other team, good things will come to you.' They finally figured that out."
Entering the third quarter, Corbett had the momentum, and the ball, after it opted to kick to Madras at the start of the game.
But on the kickoff, Deegan Davis fumbled, and Madras senior Olivier Fisk came out of the bottom of the pile possessing the ball at the Corbett 15. The Buffs' first play from scrimmage, senior Brady Pattenaude scored on a direct snap, and Easterling added a successful two-point conversion run. Only 17 seconds into the second half, Madras again went ahead by two scores, 22-8.
But this time, the Cardinals would not have an answer.
Madras shutout Corbett for the entirety of the second half, twice stopping the Cardinals on fourth down. Pattenaude and Manu combined for four sacks, and plenty of other defenders harassed Corbett all night. Madras held Corbett to 109 total offensive yards.
"It feels incredible," Pattenaude said. "It's been a long four years for us seniors. It's been a really good season."
After the Valley Catholic win, Madras felt it could've won all of the next three games against league opponents. That didn't happen in the end, but Thursday's win against Corbett validated the Buffs' season and showed that they are making progress, albeit slowly. And for the seniors who stuck around through many losses, Thursday was the ending that players can only dream of.
"I love those seniors," Taylor said. "We wanted to make sure we sent them on their last home game away with something they could remember for the rest of their lives."
The team deviated from its usual pregame routine Thursday. Players typically listen to rap music and pump themselves in the locker room before heading onto the field for warmups, but instead, Madras coaches and players held meetings with position groups. Taylor hoped the change would allow his players to better visualize and prepare mentally for the game.
"I was a little nervous, because they were really quiet going into the game," Taylor said. "When we went out to warm up … I said like two or three things and they got up and just started hooting and hollering. From that point on, I was like, 'This is going to be a fun game.'"
The Buffs earned one last offensive possession with 1:04 remaining after Michael Kaltsukis tackled Kaleb Downing at the Corbett 40, well short of the first down line. In the spirit of senior night, Madras fed running back Catalino LeClaire in an attempt to get him a touchdown.
LeClaire's first run went for 13 yards, and the next, while dragging several defenders, a 24-yard run all the way to the 3-yard line. LeClaire scored on the following play up the middle, giving Madras its fifth and final touchdown of the night.
"It felt pretty great; I had to get one last touchdown before my last home game (ended)," LeClaire said.
Madras gets a crack at its long-time Central Oregon rival, Crook County next Friday in Prineville. It will be the Buffs' last regular season game, though Taylor said they plan on scheduling another game the following week against a team that is out of playoff contention.
"Especially since they're our rival, there's going to be a lot of tension," senior Tyrell Reynoso said. "Plus, we're over there at their home turf. I can't wait to go over there and run it down their throats — do what we did here."
Crook County lost to Gladstone 49-8 on Thursday. Both teams now own identical 2-5 records going into their game, which is scheduled to kickoff Friday at 7 p.m.
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