Crook County trails early, before scoring 49 straight points in easy win

Friday night, the Crook County Cowboys started slowly, then came roaring back to take 51-13 victory over the visiting Madras White Buffalos in non-league football LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crook County quarterback Mike Irwin scrambles away from a Madras White Buffalo defender during the first half of the Cowboys game with the White Buffalos. Irwin finished with 94 yards rushing with three touchdowns. The freshman quarterback was also 5-11 passing for 152 yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys won 51-13.

“We thought we could run the ball on them a little bit,” Crook County Head Coach Ryan Cochran said. “We seem to be better when we start pounding at first. That establishes who we are.”

Madras received the opening kickoff, but was unable to move the ball. Three plays later, they punted and Crook County returned the ball to midfield. On the Cowboys first play from scrimmage, fullback Clark Woodward blasted up the middle for 23-yard gain. However, the Cowboys were unable to capitalize on the good field position and turned the ball over on downs at the 20 yard line.

After losing 10 yards, the White Buffalos dropped into punt formation. However, the center snap sailed over the punter's head and out the back of the end zone for a Crook County safety. The Cowboys returned the ensuing free kick to the Madras 48-yard line.

Three plays later, the Cowboys had a first down on the Madras 23-yard line. However, starting quarterback Mike Irwin fumbled the snap, and Madras recovered the ball on the 25-yard line.

On fourth and five, Madras dropped into punt formation, and once again the center snap sailed over the punter’s head. The punter picked up the ball and scrambled to his right, before Crook County tackled him on the 18-yard line. Once again, Crook County was unable to capitalize. A bad pitch from Irwin to Cole Ovens cost the Cowboys 10 yards.

“You can tell he’s a freshman,” Cochran said of Irwin following the game. “He was in his first start, and he got excited. But once he got settled down he played a good game.”

An incomplete pass and an illegal procedure penalty left Crook County with a fourth and 25 on the 33-yard line. On fourth down, Irwin completed a pass to Ovens, but the play came up short, and once again Madras took over on downs.

On the first play from scrimmage, Jered Pichette slashed off left tackle for a 19-yard gain, and the White Buffalos first first down of the game. Two plays later Chad Lindgren threw a strike to Cody Shepherd, who raced 61 yards for a Madras touchdown. The extra point was good, and the White Buffalos had a five-point lead with 4:03 remaining in the first LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Colbran Meeker runs around right end during the first half of the Cowboys win against Madras. Meeker finished with one rushing and two receiving touchdowns in the contest.

Ovens returned the ensuing kickoff to the 33-yard line. From there, Woodward blasted up the middle for eight yards. Then Colbran Meeker took the ball around right end and raced to the 50-yard line. On the next play Irwin dropped back to pass, then split a pair of defenders and raced to the end zone. The Crook County holder was unable to handle the center snap on the extra point attempt. However, kicker Ryder Shinkle picked the ball up and scrambled around right end, diving into the end zone for a two-point conversion giving the Cowboys a 10-7 lead with 3:07 remaining in the first quarter.

Madras returned the kickoff to the Crook County 48-yard line. However, on the next play, Gunnar Robirts intercepted a Lindgren pass giving the ball back to the Cowboys.

Two runs by Irwin later, the Cowboys had the ball first and goal on the seven-yard line. After runs by Meeker and Woodward failed to push the ball into the end zone, Irwin scored a touchdown on a quarterback keeper. The kick by Shinkle was good and the Cowboys led 17-7.

It didn’t take the Cowboys long to score again. After returning the kick off to the 35-yard line, the White Buffalos fumbled the ball on their first play from scrimmage. Seth Flegel recovered the ball for the Cowboys and four plays later Meeker scored on a 22-yard run.

The kick failed, and the Cowboys led 23-7 with 11:55 remaining in the second quarter.

On their next possession the White Buffalos picked up a first down before Meeker intercepted a pass and returned it all the way to the 25-yard line. Ovens rushed around left end and scored on the next play. Irwin scored the two-point conversion, and the Cowboys led 31-7 with 8:05 still remaining in the first half.

Irwin scored once more in the first half, as the Cowboys led 38-7 at intermission.

The remainder of the game was all Crook County until Madras finally scored a meaningless touchdown with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game.

Meeker caught a pair of touchdown passes from Irwin in the half, while Blake Bartels caught a 70-yard pass, and Ryder Shinkle made a 39-yard catch.

The Cowboys rushed for 340 yards and 20 first downs in the contest.

Irwin recovered from his slow start to rack up 94 rushing yards in 13 carries to go along with three rushing touchdowns. In addition, he was 5-11 passing for two touchdowns and 152 yards.

Woodward finished with 69-yards rushing on 12 carries, while Ovens added 56 yards on six carries. Meeker finished with a rushing touchdown and two receiving touchdowns as he ran for 54 yards in five carries and caught two passes for 27 yards.

“I think that it is a big confidence booster for out team, finally getting a win,” Meeker said. “I was glad because all of our running backs got the ball a little bit and they couldn’t key on just one guy.”

Aaron Swindle also had a solid offensive day, carrying the ball four times for 25 yards.

Meanwhile, other than the 61-yard touchdown pass, the Cowboy defense was solid all night. Madras managed just 180 yards of total offense and 10 first downs in the contest.

Zach Smith led the Cowboys defensive efforts with eight tackles, while Robirts added seven, Trevor Rasmussen finished with six, and Flegel picked up five.

“It feels great,” Rasmussen said. “We had a really good week of practice and it showed tonight. We controlled the line of scrimmage, and that was the game plan. That’s been the game plan all season we just finally did it tonight. It shows that when we get rolling on the line we can dominate.”

The win was the first of the year for the Cowboys who are now 1-3. Meanwhile Madras dropped to 2-2 on the year.

“We challenged the team after an 0-3 start how they were going to come out,” Cochran said. “This week we were extremely proud of them. They came out all week and worked extremely hard. They know the team that they can be.”

The Cowboys host the Madison Senators (2-2) on Friday beginning at 7 p.m. at Ward Rhoden.

Cochran believes that the Cowboys can win the contest. However, it won’t be easy. Madison has a win over The Dalles Wahtonka, who defeated the Cowboys earlier this year. In addition, the Patriots have the biggest offensive and defensive lines that the Cowboys have seen so far this year.

“Getting that first win under your belt is always the one to get the monkey off your back,” Cochran said. “We don’t look at our opponents too much we focus on ourselves — us getting better and it paid off this week.”

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