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A huge second quarter pushes the Buckaroos past Madras, but Buffs' goals remain in front of them

EDWARD HEATH  - Pendleton quarterback Jackson Davis releases a pass under Buffalo pressure. Davis had a very effective game throwing and the Buckaroos came away with a 49-12 victory. Madras ran into another historically stout football program Friday and fell on the road 49-12 to Pendleton.

The loss was the second blowout defeat for the Buffs in two weeks as they try to survive what is likely the toughest run of four straight games any team in the 4A levels has: Scappoose (ranked fourth), Pendleton (sixth), and coming up La Grande (11th) and Baker (ranked ninth). But Baker has been as high as No. 2 and La Grande beat Baker this past weekend 55-21, indicating that they may be underrated.

La Grande is in Madras Saturday for a 5 p.m. contest.

But even with the big defeats and the arduous schedule, the Buffs still have a huge goal before them: making the playoffs in the toughest 4A league in the state. A win against either La Grande or Baker would put them on the inside track. The White Buffs, which started the season 3-0 against much easier competition than they've battled the past two weeks, was ranked as high as fifth before Scappoose came to town and left with a 55-6 win. Madras finishes the season against 28th-ranked The Dalles and 22nd-ranked Crook County, not easy victories, but winnable games. Beat La Grande and/or Baker, and second or third place is still achievable. The top three in the league automatically qualify for state.

Against the Bucks

A disastrous second half of the second quarter doomed Madras Friday.

From the first play — a deep pass down the White Buffs' sideline — the Bucks showed they were explosive. The pass was perfect, but the sure touchdown was dropped. Undaunted, Pendleton busted their way down the field after the miscue and got inside the 10. But with their backs to their goal line, Madras stiffened. On fourth-and-five, Pendleton quarterback Jackson Davis went to the end zone, but Buff defensive back Wade Simmelink knocked down the pass and the Buffs took over.

Moving the ball for Madras was difficult most of the night. Pendleton's line was strong and athletic and was fast to tackle. After a three-and-out, the Bucks took over at the Madras 32. Mixing in the run and pass, the Bucks moved to the 4-yard line with a Davis to Benito Jennings pass. From there, they ran it up the middle for a touchdown.

Another Madras possession was stuffed, and Pendleton took over near midfield. Chas Corbett busted a run to the 25, then Payton Lambert, who had a monster game, took a counter around the Bucks' left side for a touchdown and it was 14-0 at the 1:34 mark of the first quarter.

But with the Bucks' confidence overflowing, coach Judd Stutzman's Buffs didn't quit. Quarterback Dru Boyle found some time and hit receiver Cael White on a couple passes. Inside the red zone, Boyle rolled right and hit receiver Ayden Holcomb with a short pass for a Buffalo touchdown early in the second quarter. Madras went for two and Boyle was stopped, but they were back in the game.

A failed reception of the kickoff had the Bucks starting at their own 11. On third-and-four, Davis set up a screen pass, but he threw it right to Buffs' lineman Garrett Jackson, who intercepted it and rumbled to near the 10-yard line.

But that was essentially the last great thing that happened for Madras in the game. Hoping for a tying score and conversion, the Buffs instead were stuffed and penalized into a third and 14. Following a timeout, Boyle's pass near the end zone was picked off by Lambert and Pendleton had it back at their 11 at the 8:32 mark.

In the final 8:32 of the half, Pendleton would score three touchdowns.

Pendleton found it easier to run around the Buffs than through the middle. They kept getting chunk yardage with outside runs. Lambert would punch in the Bucks' third TD at the 4:20 mark.

In less than a minute, they'd get the ball back after a three-and-out. Pendleton was determined to punch in another score before the break, but the Buff defense knew the game would essentially be over if they allowed it. The Bucks worked it inside the 5-yard line, where they faced a fourth down. On fourth, Davis threw to Jennings on a quick out. The angular receiver ran a sharp pattern, the pass was perfect, and Jennings got both feet in near the front of the end zone for another score at the 1:49 mark.

The half wasn't over. Down 28-6, Madras went to the air to try and get some life back. Instead, they had to punt it back to Pendleton with just 28 second having gone off the clock since their last TD.

Pendleton went to work again. The Madras defense didn't fold and made a couple of key plays, but the Bucks' effective short passing game and Lambert's running got the Bucks to the 2-yard line with nine seconds left. On third down, Simmelink broke up a pass, setting up fourth down at the 2 with five seconds left. On fourth, Davis threw a short pass to Lambert and the Bucks had their fifth TD.

The game went from 14-6 with Madras having the ball inside the red zone after the Jackson pickoff, at the 8:40 mark of the second quarter, to 35-6 at halftime.

Pendleton would score another TD in the third and their final touchdown at the 9:08 mark of the fourth, again on a fourth down play.

Madras scored its second touchdown with a drive midway through the fourth quarter. Facing a fourth down inside the red zone, Boyle hit Simmelink with a 10-yard TD pass.

Now red hot La Grande comes to town for a Saturday afternoon showdown. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.

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