MERKEL – Stanton’s first week win was impressive but it’s week two 24-22 loss to Merkel was more impressive because of the Buff’s ability to rebound from adversity early on and still nearly pull off a victory on the road.
Stanton’s early struggles included a fumble on the first kickoff return of the game, an interception on the team’s first possession, and a fumble on the team’s second possession.
These mistakes allowed Merkel to take a 12-0 lead midway through the first half.
“It's almost impossible to win games when you give the other team the ball three times in the first three drives. At least two of those drives should have been touchdowns for us and would have made for a lot better start to the game,” said Stanton coach Cody Hogan. “I was proud of the kids for overcoming the quick 12-0 deficit and continuing to battle. The kids did a great job of continuing to fight through all the adversity to almost pull off a win.”
After Merkel jumped out to the early lead, the Buffs defense stood strong and did not allow any more points in the first half.
Stanton’s offense finally found some rhythm and scored its first points of the game when Miguel Moreno rumbled into the endzone from 10 yards out with just under three minutes remaining in the first half. Tyler Benedict rushed for the two-point conversion making the first half score 12-8.
Stanton received the second half kickoff and drove 70 yards which was capped off by a 14-yard Austin Hewtty touchdown run. Benedict again rushed for the two-point conversion giving the Buffaloes a 16-12 lead.
The Buffaloes would increase their lead on their next possession with another Hewtty touchdown run. This time he covered 20 yards. The conversion attempt failed bringing the score to 22-12.
Merkel would respond quickly with a 72-yard touchdown pass cutting the Buffs advantage to 22-18.
The Badgers would regain the lead at 24-22 on their next possession with a 50-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass.
Stanton looked poised to take control of the lead once again with an impressive 54 yard, 11-play drive into the red zone but the drive stalled, and Merkel took over on downs.
The Buffs defense did not allow Merkel an inch on the next three plays forcing the Badgers to punt with just over one-minute remaining in the game.
On the ensuing punt, Stanton would contact the punter drawing a penalty giving Merkel 15 yards, a first down, and a chance to run out the clock for a 24-22 victory.
“The kids were upset about the loss and upset with themselves because they knew that the mistakes we made that cost us the game were entirely within our control,” stated Hogan. “The kids did a great job of not blaming one person for the loss, they know that the collection of mistakes that we made cost us that game. We talked a little about how games like this can tear a team apart if they start blaming each other, they have to build each other up and come together as a team instead of dividing themselves with blame. They have done a great job of supporting each other the last few days and we are going to grow stronger because of it.”
Stanton will travel to Forsan on Friday for a Battle of the Buffaloes at 7:30 p.m.
“Forsan is very similar to what they have been the last few years, they have plenty of speed and will make you pay if we miss tackles or assignments,” said Hogan. “They have been a run heavy team based on the last couple films that I have watched. On the defensive side of the ball we are going to have to tackle well and do our job while we trust our teammates to do theirs. Offensively, Forsan tackles well so we must maintain our blocks and give our runners places to go. Our linemen did an outstanding job of dominating the line of scrimmage last week and we will need to continue that this week.”
Forsan enters the contest with a 0-2 record after losing 39-7 to Post last week.
“I was a little surprised with how well we executed on the both sides of the ball based on the practices that we had last week. There were a couple days we did not practice well so I was a little nervous heading into the game. We made significant strides in executing our game plan despite the couple bad days of practice so I'm looking forward to how much we can improve with a good practice week.”
Benedict finished the game against Merkel with two completions for 12 yards passing and one interception and he also rushed for 73 yards.
Hewtty and Moreno were the team’s top rushers gaining 131 and 127 yards respectively. Evan Cox finished the game with 13 yards.
Josh Hensley caught one pass for 11 yards and Moreno caught the other for one yard.
Defensively, Stanton held Merkel to 87 yards rushing but gave up 231 yard passing.
Cox and Moreno led the team in tackles with 11 and 10 and Eddie Wittenharger posted seven.
Hensley and Ashton Smith ended the game with six tackles each followed by Marco Armendarez, Rene Samora, and Payden Alberts with four apiece. Hewtty and Hoyt Mims took down three Badgers each while Benedict, Israel Cazares, Ryllan Martinez, and Roberto Perez recorded two tackles each.
Adrian De La O, Landen McDaniel, and Roger Martinez rounded out the books with one tackle each.