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Specials teams, defensive scores help Madras White Buffalos football team beat Blanchet Catholic 28-7.

STEELE HAUGEN - Mason Leach catches a pass and refuses to get tackled during Madras' 28-7 win over Blanchet Catholic Oct. 11. The Madras White Buffalos and Blanchet Catholic squared off in a 3A Special District 1 East league game Oct. 11, when defensive and special teams touchdowns helped the Buffs defeat Blanchet Catholic 28-7.

The defenses for both teams held strong in the first quarter and the score was tied 0-0 heading into the second quarter.

Blanchet Catholic quarterback James Moore threw a screen pass to his running back, but Madras senior linebacker Robert Pacheco was in the perfect position and intercepted the ball. Pacheco took the interception all the way to the house and the Buffalos took a 7-0 lead with 8:25 left in the half.

"This was a great team win," Pacheco said. "We came out here and did what we had to do. The interception was because of a great play call by our defensive coach (Jerry Shaw). We knew what they were going to do because of their down and distance and the ball was overthrown. It fell in my hands and I took it for six. It shifted the momentum and we came out and just did what we did. That's it."

"We work hard every day," he said. "We work on the little things because little things turn into big things and we take that very seriously. Everything we do, we make sure it is at 100% and today's outcome showed how hard we worked."

For the remainder of the first half, both teams were held strong on defense, not allowing either offenses to find momentum. Blanchet Catholic was able to intercept a pass from Madras with little time left until halftime.

With eight seconds left, Moore dropped back to pass and threw a Hail Mary down the field. The ball was caught by a heavily guarded receiver for a touchdown and Blanchet Catholic tied the game at 7-7 at the end of the first half.

In the third quarter, Madras found success running the ball with senior power back Treyvon Easterling. Easterling's success on the ground set up a beautiful counterplay to Jeremiah Smith, who scored on a 25-yard touchdown run.

The PAT was good and Madras took back the lead at 14-7 at the start of the third quarter.

Madras forced the Blanchet Catholic Cavaliers to punt the ball. The punt was returned by senior Erik Boynton for a touchdown, giving him a 60-yard score.

STEELE HAUGEN - Madras sophomore quarterback Ethan Graeme completes a pass to Treyvon Eastlering while under pressure by a Blanchet Catholic defender. The Buffs won 28-7 Oct. 11."Today was a great day," Boynton said. "The first half was a little rough, but we pulled through in the second half. That return I had felt really great. I think it was my first score of my high school career. It is just a really good day."

"Our second-half adjustments were just pursuing the ball and wrapping up on our tackles," he said. "That punt was really good; I lost it in the darkness of the sky and I was just backpedaling, waiting for it to come down and it had the perfect bounce right into my hands. Everything felt good and I just was able to return it."

The White Buffalos used their strong defense and running game to keep things in control and later, Madras used their running attack to set up another touchdown. Liam White used his strength to power into the end zone for a score.

White's touchdown sealed the 28-7 victory over the Cavaliers and the Buffs moved to 3-3, while the Cavaliers moved to 2-4 on the season.

Easterling ended the night with 127 yards rushing on 19 attempts, while Jeremiah Smith ran the ball twice for 69 yards and a touchdown. Mason Leach led the team in receiving with two catches for 30 yards. The Buffs had 274 total yards of offense.

On defense, Madras was able to hold Blanchet Catholic to 125 yards of offense and hold the Cavaliers to 2-for-14 on third down tries.

"I thought they played well," head coach Kurt Taylor said. "It was a little interesting in the beginning. You never know what you are going to get with this boys, so I am really proud of these boys because it really could have gone either way."

"We started showing those little bit of signs of self-sabotage and we could have kept riding that wave and they decided not to," said Taylor. "They decided to come back out and do their job, fight through adversity and win a football game — a football game we needed to win."

"I am really proud of the fact that we got a defensive score," he said. "It is the first one since I have been here (2016). The punt return was awesome. We practice that stuff like crazy. We spend more time on special teams than any other team at this level that I know of and it paid off for us really well the last couple of years. It was really cool to see that happen, right when we needed it to."

"I challenged the boys at halftime and said I am sick and tired of having ebbs and flows with our momentum," said Taylor. "Why can't we just have momentum that raises and raises and finishes the job? By golly, they came out and did it. It was really neat for us to see that and I think we'll continue to go moving forward. I really do."

STEELE HAUGEN - Madras Linebacker Jeremiah Smith tackles a Blanchet Catholic defender.The White Buffalos have a big league game next, playing Scio (3-3 overall, 1-1 league play) at Scio High School. The game is a big one if the Buffalos want to make the postseason. No. 5 ranked Yamhill-Carlton (6-0) and Corbett (5-1) are both ahead of Scio and Madras in league play this season. Madras plays the Scio Loggers at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18.

"Scio is tough," Taylor said. "They are blue collar, gritty; last year, they ran the ball 53 times against us and threw the ball once and we picked it off. They just want to get you in a phone booth with that double wing (offense) and run it down your throat."

"This year, we are a bit bigger, stronger and we play better to it than we have in years past," he said. "It will still be a challenge. They are a good team, very well-coached and very disciplined. The biggest challenge will be, as it has been all year, it's away."

"Tonight, we saw a team that is different than we see on the road. I challenged them after the game to get to the locker room as quickly as possible and I said, 'Let's see if we can play like this next week on the road.' We will see how they come out and play," he said. "It is all on them."

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