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Two second-half Boyle touchdown passes, key defensive plays drive home the Buffs' third victory; Scappoose up next

TONY AHERN  - Dru Boyle readies to throw a touchdown pass to Cael White which tied the game in the third quarter against Caldera Friday. The Buffs would take the lead on an extra point, 7-6, by Johan Poland, shown making the key block on the play. Boyle would later hit Tyler Clarkson for a second TD pass as the Buffs prevailed 14-6.  Madras moved to 3-0 with a 14-6 win at Caldera High School Friday, Sept. 16.

Two touchdown drives and physical defense keyed the victory for the Buffs. Senior nose guard Hayden Heath recovered a fumble on Caldera's second drive to snuff out an early Wolfpack scoring opportunity, then sacked quarterback Alex Byler on fourth down in the final minute to seal the deal. Linebacker Skytus Smith made several big defensive plays at key moments for Madras. 

As has been the case in its first two wins — 26-20 over Sweet Home and 29-14 over Sisters — the Buffalos' offense was sporadic. Quarterback Dru Boyle was rushed often, and a handful of his passes were dropped. But as in both previous games, the Madras line play improved in the second half, subsequently Boyle had more time to throw and he hooked up with wideouts Cael White and Tyler Clarkson for Madras' two scores.  

"Friday's game was again another game of two different halves in terms of offensive production," said coach Judd Stutzman. "Defensively we continue to be in attack mode and bring pressure which has been vital for success this year.  We have not played a complete game yet and are excited to do that this week."

The Buffs may have to play a complete game to beat Scappoose. The Indians are 2-1, having lost only to fourth-ranked Estacada 48-19. But Friday they blistered The Dalles 47-8. They're in Madras Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

This is Caldera's first year of playing a varsity schedule, and the school has no seniors; they were facing a senior-dominated Buffalos squad. After getting beat by Pendleton 27-0 then losing to Grants Pass 35-0, the Wolfpack played very hard, as if they sensed they could beat Madras. A fumble recovery of their own in the first quarter stopped one Buff drive, then in the second quarter, they picked off a pass near the end zone to stop another drive. At the half, the game was scoreless.

Madras received the second-half kickoff but instead of starting the half strong, went three-and-out and punted on fourth-and-eight. Caldera started their first series near midfield. A couple of Darik Taroli runs got the Wolfpack inside the 20. On second and goal at the 5-yard line, Taroli took a pitch and ran to the left and scored untouched. The Wolfpack had the first touchdown of their varsity football history, and Madras was down six.

Maybe the game swayed on the next play. Middle linebacker Smith blew through the line and blocked the extra point try. 

After a touchback, Boyle hit Tyler Clarkson on third down for 15 yards. Then Boyle and Cael White hooked up on fly pattern. The senior receiver made another of his patened tough catches, and Madras was in business at the Wolfpack 21. Two plays later, White made a bobble catch in the end zone and the Buffs had it tied. Johan Poland then kicked the extra point and Madras had the 7-6 lead at the 4:47 mark of the third.

Caldera managed to keep their ensuing drive alive and had a first down at the Madras 20. But a holding call pushed them back and they faced first-and-20. Ayden Holcomb chased down Wolfpack quarterback Tommy Morris and tripped him up to force second and long. Morris was also suffered a leg injured on the play and wouldn't return. But Caldera then connected on a pass play and made an apparent touchdown, but it was called back on a holding penalty.

Madras couldn't move the ball and punted, and the Wolfpack again went to work. The Buff defensive front kept up the pressure, but a Taroli run gave the Wolfpack a first down at the Madras 21. Heath stuff a run for one yard, then joined a group of Buffs in a sack to push Caldera back seven more yards. Eventually, on fourth and 14, the Wolfpack attempted a field goal that would have given them the lead back. But again, Madras blocked the kick.

The White Buffs took over near the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Facing a third-and-four, Boyle got the Wolfpack to jump offsides, giving the Buffs a huge first down. Boyle then kept it around the left side, getting a nice block by Maikel Poland, for a first down. After a procedure penalty, Madras had first-and-15. With Caldera expecting the Buffs to continue running the ball to keep the clock moving, Madras instead went to the air. Clarkson was wide open over the middle. Boyle threw a 15-yard pass to the junior and Clarkson sprinted the rest of the way to the end zone untouched. Poland's kick made it 14-6 with 4:35 remaining. 

"Tyler has answered the bell this year," said Stutzman. "We knew he could make plays for us this year and we are excited he is capitalizing on his targets."

Caldera converted a fake punt on their next possession as the Wolfpack gamely pushed to try and tie the game. Taroli ran effectively and then on third-and-seven inside Madras territory, Byler hit Trace Benner with a short pass. Benner slipped a Buff tackler and got Caldera a first down on the Madras 23. There, the Madras defense again stiffened. Caldera couldn't move and used their timeouts to discuss a strategy. With the Wolfpack facing a fourth-and-seven, Heath beat the interior of the offensive line and sacked Byler for a loss. The Buffs had the ball back and their third victory after a kneel-down.

The White Buffs — who find themselves ranked fifth in the OSAA 4A power rankings — now see their schedule getting tougher. Scappoose comes to town Friday, then league starts against Pendleton on the road Sept. 30. Five of the Greater Oregon football league's six teams are ranked in the top 13.


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