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Madras defense stuffs the Huskies to open overtime, then the White Buffalos score on two Dru Boyle runs to start season with 26-20 victory

TONY AHERN  - A herd of White Buffalos stop Sweet Home's Kaden Zajic during the Buffs' 26-20 overtime win in Sweet Home Sept. 2.Timely stout defense and quarterback Dru Boyle's hard running keyed a 26-20 overtime victory for the Madras White Buffalos over Sweet Home Friday.

Boyle needed just two carries in overtime to cap the exciting night for the Buffs and first-year coach Judd Stutzman. After the White Buffs' defense shut down an explosive Husky offense on four plays to start the overtime, Madras decided to bull its way for the victory. Boyle, the three-year starting senior quarterback, ran behind the left side of the line on first down, gaining 12 yards. The second snap he ran a bit wider left, got through the line, then turned it up and outran the defensive backfield to the end zone.

The Buffs trailed 6-0, then took a 7-6 lead. The two teams were tied 14-all at halftime before Madras scored its third TD to take a 20-14 lead early in the fourth. Sweet Home then scored a touchdown with just over two minutes left, but missed the extra point, which set up the overtime.

The win was revenge for the Buffalos after Sweet Home stole a victory in Madras last year, and was a game one win for Stutzman, who endured two winless seasons coaching at Clatskanie during the last two COVID-impacted seasons.

It was a see-saw game on the Sweet Home artificial turf and personal fouls and major penalties at key times played havoc on both teams, crushing drives.

Husky quarterback Heath Nichol was sharp early. After both squads exchanged punts, Nichol hit Brady Nichols for a catch and run that set the Huskies up at the Madras 25. The pair hooked up again on a pass over the middle that Nichols caught near the 10 and ran it in the rest of the way.

Sweet Home botched the extra point, though.

Madras couldn't get untracked offensively in the early going. Sweet Home was marching again in the first quarter when Wade Simmelink picked off a pass in the end zone for Madras, keeping it a one-score game. Madras then got momentum and put together its best drive of the half. It bogged down, though, inside the 25. Facing a fourth-and-12, Madras ran an option play. Boyle pitched at a perfect time to running back Johan Poland and Poland sped down the left sideline for a touchdown. He then booted the extra point for the 7-6 lead.

But the Nichol to Nichols connection answered. Quarterback Nichol kept for some key runs, and hit Nichols for a catch and run to the 20-yard line of Madras. Three plays later, the Huskies punched in another touchdown on a short run, then Nichol kept it for the two-point conversion, getting the lead back to the Huskies at 14-7.

But before halftime, Madras would tie it when Boyle connected with junior Tyler Clarkson on a long pass and sprint to the end zone.

In the second half, the Buffs defensive line began putting more pressure on Nichol, with Skytus Smith, Levi Frank and Hayden Heath stuffing some runs and pressuring Nichol.

In the third quarter, the Buffs put together another strong drive. With Poland on the sidelines being attended to, James Lange took over as running back and made some big plays. He caught a pass over the middle from Boyle, who was under pressure, that pushed the ball to the Sweet Home 32. Lange then ran behind some solid blocking for four and five yards. On third and one, Boyle kept it for the first down.

Sweet Home wouldn't be able to stop Boyle's ground game the rest of the night. He'd keep again and take it to the 1-yard line. After a motion penalty pushed it back, Lange busted around the right side for a touchdown to give Madras a 20-14 advantage. The extra point, though, was missed.

Madras then held Sweet Home and got the ball back, needing one more good drive to potentially put the game away. The White Buffs tried to move it via the pass and were unsuccessful. A short punt got Sweet Home back in businesses on offense at the Madras 35.

A tough pass interference call on a deep pass kept Sweet Home's drive alive. Then, on third and 11, Nichol got around the right side for a touchdown at the 2:08 mark. The game could ride on the extra point, Madras got a break when Sweet Home was called for motion. Pushed five yards back, the Huskies then missed wide left and Madras had life.

The Buffs returned the kick to their own 32. A false start put them back. A couple of incomplete passes stopped the clock, helping the Huskies, and Madras was forced to punt again from deep in their own territory. Sweet Home likely smelled a great chance to score late, but kicker/punter Poland was back on the field — and he boomed a key 45-yard punt. Sweet Home failed to get any offense and regulation ended at 20-all.

Madras won the flip and elected to go on defense, and defense it was. Smith stuffed the opening run for minus-3 yards. On second down, Nichol threw a short pass to his left, and Madras cornerback Maikel Poland made a strong tackle for little gain. On third down, nose guard Heath got through and sacked Nichol for a loss. On fourth, Nichol threw deep into the end zone and it was well defended and incomplete.

Then Madras got the ball and Boyle showed he was the most effective ball-carrier playing that night. After two carries, the entire Madras team was celebrating in the end zone.

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