Mason punches Dawgs out
Somehow at the end, that feat just wasn’t enough.
Mason outlasted the Bulldogs 49-35 in a Class A, Division I, Region IV regional matchup at spacious Mustang Stadium Friday evening.
Thorndale shuts down its most successful season in six years with a 10-3 mark. The Bulldogs were 10-4 in 2006 when they recorded their last playoff victory.
“We were pleased with our play tonight, especially the first half,” said Thorndale Coach Brent Brevard. “We knew we were going to have to score some points because they’ve been scoring a lot of points on everybody.
“We never gave up and that has been this group’s personality all year. We didn’t quit tonight.”
The defending state champion Punchers registered their 27th consecutive victory Friday night.
The evening was frought with subplots as Mason Coach Kade Burns had been Thorndale’s coach from 2009 to 2010 before leaving for his home town where his father had been football coach.
“I was proud of the way we responded to adversity tonight,” said Burns, who has yet to lose a game in Mason. “We didn’t panic. We did the things we were supposed to do — the things we’ve been doing all year — and found a way to get a victory.”
Burns has not changed his coaching philosophy since leaving Thorndale and his current Mason team mirrored the Bulldog teams he led—10 yards and a cloud of dust.
The Punchers concentrated on the ground game, grinding out 479 yards and taking to the air just enough to keep Thorndale honest.
Mason collected 595 yards of offense and averaged nearly 10 yards per play from the line of scrimmage.
The contest featured 1,020 yards of offense, 44 first downs and 12 touchdowns.
Puncher quarterback Elliot Bibb rushed for a career-high 140 yards to lead a trio of 100-yard runners, including a 50-yard touchdown on a perfectly executed naked bootleg that gave Mason a 41-28 lead with 9 minutes, 28 seconds to play.
Bibb also passed for 114 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown to Miguel Castillo that broke open a tight game and gave the Punchers a 28-20 lead with 7:08 left in the third quarter.
Do-it-all running back Rio Schmidt added 142 yards (101 in the first half) and a 3-yard touchdown. Schmidt also converted seven extra points despite missing two field goal attempts in the second quarter.
Luis Castillo joined the century club with 116 yards, including touchdowns of 41, 7 and 13 yards.
Raul Silguero added a 59-yard touchdown run that gave the Punchers a 35-20 lead with 3:48 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs countered with a balanced attack, but relied heavily on the passing arm of quarterback Riley Schaefer who threw for 284 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The junior also added 43 yards on the ground on four carries.
While Schaefer riddled Mason for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the first half on 10-of-15 accuracy, the Puncher defense tightened up, using more man coverage and causing Schaefer to misfire on 10 of his last 15 attempts and was picked off twice.
“We got some collisions with their receivers on their pass routes and knocked their timing off,” Burns said. “That was the key to stopping them. I was proud of the way our defense played in the second half.”
“I was disappointed in myself because we kind of bogged down in the second half,” Brevard said. “We wanted to run the ball more in the second half and we did.
“We wore on them. Their linemen were a lot easier to block in the second half. They wore on us too.”
Schaefer was able to take advantage of his receivers getting open down the middle or on the sidelines for big gains in the first half.
While Mason had three runners go over the 100-yard threshold, the Bulldogs had a pair of receivers reach the 100-yard mark for the first time all year.
Colton Austin hauled in five passes for 122 yards and Sam Stockton grabbed four passes for 112 yards. Austin had collected 100 yards in the first quarter alone.
Keon Mays was the go-to guy in the red zone, snagging two touchdown receptions on top of five catches for 53 yards.
Schaefer threw passes of 56 and 25 yards to Austin on the Bulldogs’ first two aerials of the evening, setting up Darius Brooks’ 4-yard touchdown and giving Thorndale a 7-0 lead with 6:34 left in the first quarter.
Brooks, who was averaging nearly 100 yards a game coming in, was limited to 48 yards on 14 carries.
The Bulldogs gained just 14 yards on 13 attempts in the first half.
Brooks’ short trip set off a five-touchdown frenzy of scoring in the next 10 minutes.
Mason scored the next two times it had the ball, followed by Schaefer’s 11-yard strike to Mays that tied the score 14-14 and then the Punchers quickly answered as Schmidt’s 50-yard gallop set up Castillo’s seven-yard score to hand Mason a 21-14 lead with 24 seconds left in the quarter.
The last two breakneck scores of the first quarter came within a 2:30 span.
The Bulldogs took advantage of a misplayed shotgun snap at the Mason 14 and Schaefer found Mays again, who made a leaping catch on the first play from scrimmage, to end the scoring flurry with 9:21 left in the half.
A missed extra point prevented Thorndale from tying the game and the Bulldogs trailed 21-20 as neither team scored again in the half.
For two teams that were fairly stingy on defense, the first quarter fireworks were a surprise when they combined for 35 points and had collected 520 yards by intermission.
No lead was safe for Mason.
After Bibb’s sneaky bootleg pushed the Punchers ahead 41-28, Seth Barker ignited the Thorndale sideline, returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to pull the Bulldogs within 41-35 with 9:11 to play.
“We had a middle return set up and when I saw him turn and head to the sideline I was thinking ‘what is he doing?’” Brevard said. “Then, when I saw what was happening, I said ‘it’s alright, keep going’.
“That was big. That got us back in the game. We just needed to get a stop or a turnover.”
After a penalty for blocking in the back on the ensuing kickoff, Mason was in trouble, sitting at its own nine-yard line.
However, the relentless Schmidt busted through the line and into the secondary for a 30-yard burst to the Thorndale 45.
The Punchers then turned to Castillo who carried the ball on three consecutive plays, including the 13-yard dash to complete the 91-yard drive and push their lead to 49-35 with 6:18 remaining to be played.
Mason shut down Thorndale on its final drive and ran out the final 4:14 of the game, taking a knee at the 6-yard line as the clock expired.
“The big thing when you’re talking about this season is the way we fought through the injuries,” said Brevard. “The way they stepped up when we had to move people around. We had 17 kids on the sidelines at one point.”
Thorndale loses 12 seniors, but returns key cogs in the machine in record-setting quarterback Schaefer, 1,000-yard rusher Brooks and fellow sophomores Rowdy McCoy and Colton Austin.
“What we told the seniors is thank you for getting us back in the playoffs and then three rounds deep,” Brevard said. “Thank you for giving our young guys a taste of what it’s like so they can carry this over into next year.”
PAW PRINTS—Riley Schaefer established school records with 2,070 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes against just eight interceptions... Derivative of Schaefer’s success, Keon Mays also established a school record with 39 catches for 583 yards and eight touchdowns... With 1,067 yards, Darius Brooks became the first Bulldog to reach 1,000 yards since Marcus Gest in 2006... Colton Austin did not catch a pass until the sixth game of the season, but finished behind Mays with 31 grabs for a school-record 618 yards and seven touchdowns. In the past three games, the sophomore caught 13 passes for 374 yards... The 35 points is by far the most points the Punchers allowed all season. They had allowed just 11 per game coming in.
Rushing—Brooks 174-1,090 15 TD, Miller 50-333 45TD, Austin 48-292 5 TD, McCoy 51-276 TD, Barker 49-248 4TD, Mays 28-154 TD, Guzman 11-102 TD, Schaefer 53-199 4TD, Miller, J. 19-39, Salinas 2-(-23), Bigan 1-(-7).
Passing—Schaefer 134-254-8, 2,070 yards 26 TD; Miller, J. 5-13-1, 95 yards TD; Mays 3-8-0, 36 yards, Stockton 1-1-0.
Receiving— Mays 39-583 8TD, Austin 31-618 7TD, Stockton 23-473 5TD, Guzman 5-120 2TD, Miller, J. 6-110 2TD, Gomez 8-85, Salinas 9-82 2TD, Miller, P. 7-62 TD, Hafley 6-41, Bigan 2-10, Brooks 4-14, McCoy 2-3.
|. Last||week—||Mason||49,||Thorndale 35;|
Mason 49, thorndale 35
|Mason||21 0||14 14—49|
THORNDALE—Darius Brooks 5 run (Colton
Austin kick) 6:34
MASON—Luis Castillo 41 run (Rio Schmidt
MASON—Schmidt 3 run (Schmidt kick)
THORNDALE—Keon Mays 30 pass from
Riley Schaefer (Austin) 1:15
MASON—Castillo 7 run (Schmidt kick) :24
THORNDALE—Mays 14 pass from Schaefer
(kick failed) 8:55
MASON—Miguel Castillo 54 pass from
Elliott Bibb (Schmidt kick) 7:08
MASON—Raul Silguero 59 run (Schmidt
THORNDALE—Price Miller 2 run (Sam
Stockton pass from Schaefer) 10:18
MASON—Bibb 50 run (Schmidt kick)
THORNDALE—Seth Barker 90 KO return
(Austin kick) 9:11
MASON—Luis Castillo13 run (Schmidt
RUSHING—THORNDALE: Brooks 13-48
TD, Schaefer 4-43, Miller 6-28 TD, Austin
4-22.. MASON: Schmidt 17-142 TD, Bibb
17-140 TD, Castillo 8-116 3TD.
PASSING—THORNDALE: Schaefer 15-30-
2, 284 yards, 2TD. MASON—Bibb 5-12-0,
117 yards TD.
RECEIVING—THORNDALE: Austin 5-122,
Stockton 4-112, Mays 5-53, Miller 1-(-3).
MASON: Castillo 2-33.