Crook County hands MHS first loss of season
The White Buffalos did not get gunned down by the Cowboys like they did last year in football. Instead, Madras shot itself in the foot on several occasions last Friday.
Seeking its first 3-0 start since 2004, Madras fumbled the football and was flagged at inopportune times Sept. 23 during a 23-6 Class 4A nonconference football loss to visiting Crook County.
"It was a rough game," MHS head coach Rick Wells said. "I think we played really hard, but we just got lots of silly penalties and we fumbled the ball away."
Madras dropped to 2-1 overall on the season, while Crook County improved to 3-1. Madras begins Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference play at 7 p.m. Friday at La Salle (4-0).
"Give credit to Crook County because they're a playoff football team," Wells said. "They're going to win seven or eight games and they earned the win (Friday)."
The Cowboys, who beat the White Buffalos 40-0 last year, seized the momentum in the game near the end of the first quarter. Madras cornerback Jordan Brown intercepted a pass on Madras' 16-yard line, but fumbled it away while trying to advance the ball. Crook County took advantage three plays later with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Kole Brewer for a 14-6 lead with 23 seconds left in the first half.
"If Jordan can hang onto that interception, the entire game changes," Wells said. "Our defense is our heart and sole of our team, but unfortunately, Crook County knocked the ball out of Jordan's hands after he made a heck of an interception."
On Madras' ensuing possession, the White Buffalos had a snap that sailed into the end zone for an eventual safety to give the Cowboys a 16-6 lead with 11:08 left in the first half.
"We just couldn't get any breaks," said Madras defensive lineman Anthony Allbritton, who had several big tackles in the game. "There was a lot of stuff going on out there, but we just didn't get a lot of the calls."
Madras junior wide receiver Devin Ceciliani produced back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. The junior reeled in a 55-yard touchdown pass from Andrew McConnell with 3:25 to play in the first quarter to pull Madras within one point at 7-6.
"He is special and you can't teach some of the stuff he does," Wells said of Ceciliani. "What I love the most about Devin is he has the desire to win."
Ceciliani nearly scored again in the first half. McConnell again found Ceciliani, this time for 70 yards to the Cowboys' 10-yard line.
"Basic streaks," Ceciliani said of his two big pass plays. "Andrew and I have good chemistry right now and he trusts me and I trust him."
The White Buffalos, however, were unable to score thanks to a false start and a dropped catchable pass on fourth down.
"It was frustrating at times," McConnell said. "We just couldn't get things going."
Madras had another chance to score just before halftime. Junior Steele Haugen recovered a fumbled punt by Crook County on the Cowboys' 31-yard line, but a clipping penalty on the White Buffalos forced lengthy third and fourth downs that Madras was unable to convert.
"I was patient and in the right place at the right time," Haugen said of his second fumble recovery in as many games. "We focus on defense and take a lot of pride in swarming to the ball."
Neither team could muster much offense in the second half, aside from Crook County's late touchdown to make the score 23-6 with 2:33 to play in the game.
Madras had two scoring opportunities in the second half, having marched the ball deep into Crook County territory. On the White Buffalos' first possession of the second half, a bad snap on fourth down stalled the drive on the 12-yard line. Madras also had the ball on the Cowboys' 22-yard line -- fueled by a McConnell to Jack Fine 31-yard pass late in the third quarter, but the drive again stalled thanks mainly to an unsportsmanlike penalty on Madras.
"We have to clean things up," Allbritton said.
Ceciliani finished with 153 yards receiving.
"Devin Ceciliani is a great athlete and has a bright future," Haugen said.