The Madras White Buffalo football team traveled to Scio High School to face the Loggers and were able to dig down deep for a 20-18 league victory.
Madras and Scio were both 3-3 overall and 1-1 in league play, fighting for a second-place spot in league and a postseason appearance.
"This was the most important game of the season for us," head coach Kurt Taylor said. "It really was in several aspects, the first being we wanted to go on the road and get a victory, and the second, we had to play a team that usually has our number — a team that would usually beat us because of the way they play with that double wing, smash mouth, type of football. It was enormous for us."
"I think the confidence level of our boys just jumped exponentially because of this victory," he said. "They did everything we have asked them to. They have been practicing so well for these last three weeks and it finally came to fruition with positive self talk, being kind to each other, praising each other and not getting down when bad things happen."
"We had a couple penalties, and instead of the normal Madras team routine of 'here we go again' or bad attitudes, they were positive," said Taylor. "We even had a couple players tell me to stay positive, which I thought was really neat and it was just a fantastic win."
Scio attempted an onside kick to start the game, but special teams coach Jake Young was prepared for it and the Buffs recovered the onside kick, putting their offense in good field position.
The Buffalos scored first with a 57-yard run by Treyvon Easterling. Tyriek Rodriguez hit the point after touchdown and the Buffs took an early 7-0 lead.
Scio responded with a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Madras stopped the Loggers' 2-point attempt and the Buffs held on to a 7-6 lead. Neither team was able to score in the second quarter and the score remained 7-6 heading into the third quarter.
The White Buffalos marched down the field in the third quarter and a 3-yard score by Easterling extended Madras' lead. The PAT was not good, but Madras held on to a 13-6 lead.
Scio went back to their own ground attack and scored on a 14-yard run. Again, the Buffs stopped the Loggers' 2-point attempt and Madras held on to a small 13-12 lead.
The last quarter of the game began and the White Buffalos were able to once again find success with Easterling, who scored his third touchdown of the game on a 15-yard run. Rodriguez's PAT was good and Madras took a 20-12 lead.
Neither the Loggers nor the White Buffalos showed any sign of giving up and Scio scored again on a 3-yard run. Scio needed to convert on the 2-point conversion if they wanted to send the game into overtime.
The Madras defense held strong again, stopping another 2-point conversion and beating the Loggers 20-18. The Buffs stopped all three of the Loggers' 2-point tries and the Buffalos moved one step closer to making the state playoffs for the second year in a row.
Easterling made up almost all of the White Buffalos offense, running for 160 yards on 25 attempts and three touchdowns. Madras had 194 rushing yards as a team and 12 yards through the air.
"Trey had all his yards pretty much straight up the gut," Taylor said. "We were able to throw the ball when we needed to on third and fourth downs. Our offensive line played amazing. We had a great push, moving guys that were big. They were trying to cut (block) us and our guys did a really good job. It was a tough, hard-fought game and our defense played phenomenal. That is a hard team to stop."
"They only scored three touchdowns and we stopped them on all their 2-point conversions," he said. "Our boys finally decided to play gritty and tough, beat up, hurt. In the past, that has been our downfall and it has always hurt us. This game, for whatever reason, with the confidence they have exposed through practices, they just said no. They drew a line in the dirt and said you ain't getting past this and it was really fun to watch."
Senior linebacker Kody Zemke led the team on defense with nine tackles and Derek Main was right behind him with seven tackles.
"There are other aspects that make this really cool," said Taylor. "I don't know when a team has played Madras that close and a Madras team has come out victorious. We basically won on the last play of the game and they fought the whole time. It was enormous. It was really great because now the ball is in our court to go to postseason play."
The Buffs moved to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in league play after their away game victory. Madras has another big game during their last home game of the year and senior night. The Buffs play Corbett at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25.
"I think part of it was our coaching staff, who did an amazing job preparing them for what we were going to see, both with their offense and defense," Taylor said, about how the team dug deep for the win. "They did exactly what we thought they were going to do, even in special teams. Preparedness from the coaching staff was a big."
"I think just the way we have been talking to each other and talking as a staff, not giving them any doubt, basically getting them to believe in themselves," he said. "They have all the talent in the world and on any given Friday, they can either beat any team in the state or lose to the worst team in the state and it's completely on them every Friday night. We have been doing nothing but positive talk and confidence boosting and they are eating it up. It really showed Friday night; it was really neat to see them, really just grow up."
Madras and Corbett have very similar stories, rising from very unsuccessful programs at the 4A level, both dropping to 3A for football and both now, fighting for a postseason spot.
Corbett is 5-2 overall, 2-1 in the 3A Special District 1 East Conference, ranked No. 19, while Madras is 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the 3A-SD1-East Conference, ranked No. 18. They are both tied for second place in their conference behind No. 5 ranked Yamhill-Carlon (7-0).
"Their success comes from their defense," Taylor said about Corbett. "You watch their games and they have a couple guys that are pretty good. Their defense is aggressive and they bring a lot of pressure. We should be able to take advantage of our tackle to tackle (linemen), running straight up the gut and get a good push."
Corbett has scored 109 points this season and only given up 60 points, which is the lowest in the conference by 37 points.
"They are so much better coached than in years past," he said. "Their head coach has been doing a really good job and he has been having to do the same things we have had to do when we took over this program because they were not very good either. He is really trying to instill grit and toughness with his boys and it seems to be working."
"I don't ever want to talk down about an opponent because it is all about our boys and we are working on that faceless opponent type thing," he said. "They are pretty good and their record speaks for itself, but when you look at the teams they have played, it is not our schedule. I would argue that our schedule is the hardest (3A schedule) in the state. It is what it is and we just we have get after them, do us, keep staying confident, working hard and we will see what happens Friday."
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