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Madras High School White Buffalos football team shuts out McLoughlin Pioneers 16-0 in season opener.

STEELE HAUGEN - Madras quarterback Robert Pacheco threw and ran for a touchdown in the White Buffalos' 16-0 win over McLoughlin Sept. 6. (file photo)The Madras White Buffalo football team didn't allow McLoughlin to score a single point during the Buffs' 16-0 win at Mac-Hi Sept. 6.

"It was definitely a first game," head coach Kurt Taylor said. "It was a first game, plus add on a five-hour travel time sitting on the bus, stopping at the wrong rest stop. There was a lot of adversity, a lot of different things thrown at them. You have to give credit to McLoughlin; they are much better, much better than last year."

Neither the Buffs nor the Pioneers could score a touchdown in the first quarter, but the White Buffalos were able to get close enough for kicker Tyriek Rodriguez to make a 27-yard field goal. Rodriguez is also a senior captain on the Madras soccer team.

The field goal gave Madras a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, senior quarterback Robert Pacheco completed a quick screen pass to Dapri Miller, who caught the ball and scored a 20-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good and the Buffalos took a 9-0 lead.

Later in the second quarter, the Buffs were just past midfield and made the decision to go for it on fourth down with two yards to go. Quarterback Robert Pacheco ran the ball right up the middle, but he didn't just get the first down, the speedy senior was too fast for the Pioneers and Pacheco ran all the way to the endzone for a 44-yard touchdown run.

Halftime came soon and the White Buffalos had a 16-0 lead during the quick break.

The Buffs couldn't get on the scoreboard in the second half, but neither could the Pioneers. Madras' defense held strong, not allowing any points scored and Madras came away with 16-0 win.

Buffalo linebackers Kody Zemke and Jeremiah Smith led the Buffs on defense. Zemke had four tackles and assisted on seven, while Smith had four tackles and assisted on nine. Defensive back Trent Mitchell also came away with four tackles, with one tackle for a loss, and assisted on two.

"The defense is the same story, different year," Taylor said. "They are incredibly aggressive and very smart. They know what is going on all the time and are almost always in the right position to make a play. We didn't tackle as good as we should have, but that is a simple fix. Kody (Zemke) had a great night as usual; Jeremiah (Smith) was everywhere."

On offense, Pacheco was the straw that stirs the drink. He ended the game 7-for-14 with 104 yards passing, with a touchdown and an interception pass, while also leading the Buffs rushing with 36 yards and a touchdown on six carries.

"The offense looked pretty good," Taylor said. "We didn't get any film on them, so we went off what they did last year and it was not even close to the same. They did a lot of slants and stunts, playing a lot of cover 1, too. They came out and did a lot more fundamentally skilled concepts than we thought they were going to do."

"Had we done everything right and executed, the score would have been 65-0," he said. "We had two touchdowns called back for holding penalties. We had three touchdowns dropped in the endzone. On defense we also dropped two interceptions, which would have probably been pick-sixes. A lot of first game, jitter type stuff."

Miller led the team with two receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown. Max Binning took over as running back for power runner Treyvon Easterling, who did not play in the game. Binning ran the ball four times for 21 yards.

The Buffalos came away with the victory, but statistically, the game between the Buffs and Pioneers was very close. McLoughlin ran 64 plays for 160 total yards, while Madras ran 40 plays for 178 yards.

The Buffs had 104 passing yards and 74 rushing yards and the Pioneers had 42 passing yards and 118 rushing yards. McLoughlin was able to get 12 first downs compared to Madras' six first downs.

The big story of the game for both teams was third-down efficiency and penalties. The Buffs were able to go 3-for-8 on third-down (38%) and were able to hold the Pioneers to 1-for-11 on third down (11%) and 2-for-7 on fourth down (29%).

Madras turned the ball over three times, compared to McLoughlin, which turned the ball over only once, but the Buffalos only had four penalties and the Pioneers ended with eight.

"It was kind of funny because at the end of the game, the boys were upset," Taylor said. "They were really angry that we didn't win by more and I thought that was kind of cool because normally a Madras team would be happy they won and just get on the bus and party. These guys are not expecting that kind of stuff and they accepted the fact that they need to get better."

The White Buffalos have their first home game this week, as Madras takes on La Pine at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, for a Central Oregon showdown. La Pine is coming off a 42-22 win over Douglas Sept. 6.

"You know they (La Pine) are going to be well-coached," Taylor said. "Bo (DeForest) does a great job and they are blue collar, come to practice with my hardhat and lunch pail, running the ball down your throat. On defense, they don't even care if they show pressure; they just come straight at you. They are just tough, gritty, big dudes and we will see how things match up. We are really going to use our speed to our advantage."

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