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Crook County High School football defense and creativity leads to 28-6 victory

LON AUSTIN - Austin Richelle packs the ball against Madras last Friday during the Cowboys' 28-6 win.The Crook County Cowboys overcame a slow start to roll past the Madras White Buffalos 28-6 Friday night in Tri-Valley Conference football action.

Playing at home, on senior night, in front of the largest crowd of the year, the Cowboys overcame an early deficit and more than a dozen penalties to knock off the White Buffalos.

"Our first half was a struggle between penalties and execution," Crook County head coach Ryan Cochran said. "But, I thought our defense played a really good game. We gave up that first drive, basically one big play, and then we shut them down, so our defense did a heck of a job."

After neither team scored in their opening possession, the White Buffalos started their second drive on the 8-yard line. After a short loss on first down, Madras went to the air. First, quarterback Dru Boyle hit Reece White for a 61-yard gain, all the way down to the Crook County 32-yard line. Then, six plays later, Boyle hit Ethan Graeme on an 8-yard pass in the corner of the end zone for the score.

The extra point attempt was not good, but with 3:52 remaining in the first quarter, the White Buffalos had a 6-0 lead.

Crook County responded quickly, but it wasn't on a called play. Quarterback Hogan Smith dropped back to pass, then scrambled around the right side of the line for a 48-yard touchdown run. Smith kept the ball on the two-point conversion, running it in and giving the Cowboys an 8-6 lead with 2:41 still remaining in the quarter.

"I don't know how you get out of those situations that he got in," Cochran said of his quarterback. "He scrambled out of there and made some unbelievable plays. Some of our big plays it wasn't the play call. He ad-libbed and took off and made some huge plays. He had a heck of a game."

The rest of the game was all Crook County as Madras struggled to move the ball. Still, it wasn't easy for the Cowboys, who struggled with penalties and turnovers the remainder of the first half.

Clinging to a two-point lead, the Cowboys finally got the ball back midway through the second quarter and went on a clock-eating drive. With running back Austin Rochelle doing most of the damage, the Cowboys moved quickly from their own 42-yard line all the way down to the Madras 35. Then, for the second time in the game, Smith scrambled, escaped defensive pressure, then scampered 35 yards for another TD. The kick failed, but with 1:54 left in the first half, the Cowboys led 14-6.

Madras failed to cleanly field the ensuing kickoff and the Cowboys recovered. However, penalties killed what started as a promising drive, and the Cowboys were forced to punt. Two plays later, Trevyn Smith intercepted a Boyle pass, but time expired in the first half as the White Buffalos sacked Hogan Smith for a 10-yard loss.

The second half was all Crook County. The Cowboys took possession after the second half kickoff on their own 37-yard line and quickly moved down the field, scoring on a 24-yard pass from Hogan Smith to Trevyn Smith. The kick was blocked, but Crook County led 20-6.

"Our defense being so stingy bought us some time until we started clicking a little bit better on offense," Cochran said. "That was a big emphasis, coming back out and playing clean football so we were not getting behind the sticks all the time. We put a huge emphasis on our defense getting a shut out the second half, and they really stepped up."

Madras ran just three offensive plays the entire third quarter as the Cowboys controlled time of possession. When the quarter ended, Crook County had the ball and was driving again.

Hogan Smith scored his third touchdown of the game on a 5-yard keeper with 9:51 remaining in the final period and the Cowboys led 26-6.

The final two points of the game came on a safety after Boyle was sacked and fumbled the ball into the end zone late in the period. From there, the Cowboys ran out the clock.

With the win, the Cowboys moved to 3-1 on the year while Madras fell to 1-3.

"Just being able to play, I don't care what time of year it is, I'm just blessed and thank God every day for it," said Crook County lineman Haydn Hilderbrand following the game. "It was really emotional tonight. After 14 years as a ball boy and then playing at Ward Rhoden Stadium for four more years, tonight is it. We have a road game next week, and then hopefully we will have one more game after that."

Hogan Smith had a monster game for the Cowboys, carrying the ball 21 times for 140 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed six of 12 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. Rochelle had 10 carries for 48 yards while Trevyn Smith had five carries for 43 yards and four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. As a team, the Cowboys rushed for 268 yards as they gained a season best 342 yards of total offense.

Defensively, Hogan Smith finished with six tackles while Dakota Humphreys added four and an interception.

The Cowboys are on the road this Friday when they take the Estacada Rangers, 3-1, in a 7 p.m. game.

"We have to clean a lot of things up," Cochran said. "We have to be able to block some things better technically, and we have to play cleaner football. We can't shoot ourselves in the foot on every drive and expect to play a good football team. Estacada is a good football team, and so we have got to bring a really good game to play with them."

Madras 6 0 0 0 – 6

Crook County 8 6 6 8 – 28

M – Ethan Graeme 8-yard pass from Dru Boyle, kick failed.

CC – Hogan Smith 48-yard run, Smith run good.

CC – Hogan Smith 35-yard run, two-point attempt failed.

CC – Trevyn Smith 24-yard pass from Hogan Smith, kick failed.

CC – Safety.

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