Despite huge nights from Devin Ceciliani and Steele Haugen, Crook County's offense is just too much
Usually scoring 52 points in a high school football game puts a notch in the win column.
That is, unless the opponent scores 60.
In a wild night for offense, Crook County held off Madras, 60-52, Friday at Madras High School in a game that featured more than 1,100 yards of combined total offense.
Buffs senior wideout Devin Ceciliani had one of the best games of his career, statistically, with 343 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns. Madras had 562 yards in total offense.
He returned the game's opening kick for 90 yards and a touchdown, then caught three scoring passes and ran for another.
He caught eight passes for 180 yards, ran the ball eight times for 71 yards and piled up 92 return yards.
"I thought we played a pretty solid game," he said. "We had a few minor mistakes that held us back, some penalties and things like that, but we'll get the kinks worked out."
Madras was down by as much as 22 points late in the third quarter, but the Buffs refused to throw in the towel and kept going at the Cowboys with everything they had.
When Crook County running back Marcus Greaves dashed 24 yards for a score with 3:05 left in the third, the Cowboys extended their lead to 46-24 and looked like they were going to cruise the rest of the way to win.
The Buffs, however, had another surge left in them that nearly toppled the Cowboys.
Madras quarterback Steele Haugen dove into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run near the end of the third period, which was set up by a pair of fantastic grabs by Jack Fine. Fine caught a pass on a slant pattern around the 40-yard line and carried three Cowboys on his back before going down near the 20-yard line.
He then laid out for a ball and snagged it to convert fourth down and set up Haugen's short score.
Madras trailed again by three scores after Greaves zipped 21 yards for a touchdown, but a 2-yard run and 66-yard reception by Aaron Phillips on consecutive drives all of a sudden brought the Buffs within eight with 27 seconds left.
Madras was unable to recover the onside kick, however, and didn't get a chance to attempt to tie.
"When a team has that much heart and can be down two or three scores and play like that, you saw what it could do," Ceciliani said.
Even with not much time, if the Buffs had recovered the onside kick, they proved they can score in a flash.
To end the first half, the Buffs went 80 yards in 20.7 seconds with Haugen engineering a fantastic dive.
Haugen dropped back and hit Fine with a picture-perfect pass down the sideline for a 45-yard gain, then found Ceciliani over the middle for 24 more. Haugen spotted Ceciliani again for a 16-yard score as time expired to bring the Buffs within two, 26-24.
Haugen said the key to the speedy scoring drive was the rapport he has with his receivers, and of course, practice.
"I trust my receivers so much, and the line did a great job," Haugen said. "We work on our two-minute offense and being quick, and we got the right set of out-of-bounds plays and it all worked out."
Haugen ended the game with 395 yards through the air on 17 of 32 passing with four touchdowns and an interception. He also ran the ball six times for 38 yards and a score.
"I couldn't be prouder of our guys," Madras head coach Rick Wells said. (Some of the team's injured players returned for the game, but the Buffs are still not at full-strength - especially in the backfield.)
"We've got kids that are starting as sophomores and playing out of position. We have to find pieces to fill in the spots; that's what 4A and 3A small high school football is all about," Wells said.
With limited options, the Buffs had to rely heavily on the pass, but were able to establish a bit of a running game to keep the Crook County defense from dropping back eight guys into coverage.
As the game progressed, the Cowboys started giving more defensive attention to Ceciliani, which opened up Fine in single coverage. Fine reeled in eight catches for 149 yards in a great night, so Haugen had his choice of which play-making receiver to go to.
Ceciliani made a highlight-reel grab in the fourth quarter that re-energized the Buffs and got the crowd going, too. Haugen lofted a pass toward the front corner of the end zone and Ceciliani jumped over the Crook County defender, snatched the ball out of the air, then turned and stretched out to break the plane of the goal for six points.
"Devin is just an amazing player, and to have a guy like that on our team is special," Haugen said. "He never gives up, has tons of determination and work ethic and is just so athletic. He leads our team."
The Buffs will hit the road to open Tri-Valley Conference play Friday in Aurora at North Marion High School. The Huskies knocked off Junction City, 26-19, last week.
North Marion is 3-0 on the season and is rated No. 4 in the OSAA Class 4A RPI.
Madras fell to 1-3 with the loss.
Elsewhere in the Tri-Valley Conference, No. 1-ranked Gladstone handled No. 3 Philomath, 42-22, and Estacada beat Yamhill-Carlton, 38-0.
La Salle slid past Banks, 32-30, and Molalla fell to Phoenix, 22-19.