Buffaloes secure playoff berth with win over Eagles
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Oct. 29, 2005 - COMO - In the final home game of the 2005 season, the Como-Pickton Eagles left Senior Night with a 35-18 loss to the Lone Oak Buffaloes at Ron Heflin Field.

The Eagles are now 3-6 overall and 1-4 in District 17-2A play with a trip to Edgewood next Friday night in the regular season finale for both teams. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

"Our kids will come in Monday morning fired up, and they are going to be fired up because of the win that Edgewood got on us last year. We have been looking forward to that game for a year and we will be ready," said CPHS coach Joe Ryzman.

In the first 24 minutes of the game, the Como-Pickton defense made the stops when they needed against the high-powered offense of the Buffaloes, giving up only 14 points as Lone Oak junior running back Alex Bowman scored from 2 and 13 yards in the first half. Bowman finished the game as the leading rusher with 16 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

"We came out in the first half and played well and the kids played tough, and it was a roller coaster the second half," the coach said. "We came out and had a turnover at the beginning of the third quarter and the momentum was on our side and we were able to capitalize on that."

In the third quarter, the Eagles went to senior Ray Hayden as he scored his 21st rushing touchdown of the season from 18 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-6. He also scored from 5 yards out with 33 seconds remaining in the game and finished with 23 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

Hayden now has 1,519 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns on 168 totes for the Eagles.

Senior quarterback Trent Vail had his best game of the season, throwing for 155 yards on 7-of-15 passing with one touchdown and one interception. He now has 318 yards on 22-of-49 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. 

Vail said this season has been a challenge for him as the quarterback and is looking forward to next week's finale at Edgewood to end his career at Como-Pickton.

"Being a senior quarterback has been a challenge but it has been something that I have liked and I have learned a lot this year," said Vail. "It would be unbelievable to beat Edgewood since this is going to be my last game as a senior, and the only thing that I would want to do is come out of there with a victory and get some revenge from last year with the upset that they put on us and revenge it back for us this year."

On the final drive of the game for the Eagles, Vail completed a pass to senior tight end Bo Baxter for a 45-yard completion, and Baxter carried four Buffaloes on his back for 15 yards with 20 seconds remaining in the game.

After strong running by Hayden to get the Eagles within scoring position, Vail made a spectacular throw to Bryan Hicks, who had heavy coverage on him in the end zone, for a 10-yard touchdown as time expired for the 35-18 finale.

"That was a great drive for us and Bo made a great catch. He needed that one this year because he has been catching great during practice and that gave us momentum, and Trent was able to connect with Bryan in the final seconds of the game," Ryzman said.

With Lone Oak leading 14-6 after Hayden's first touchdown of the game, the Buffaloes scored 21 unanswered points to break the game open and Ryzman said the way the Eagles kept fighting in the second half speaks volumes for the team this year.

"They came back and scored three unanswered touchdowns and at that point our kids kept playing tough and with the determination that they have played with all year and we were able to score two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter," he said. 

"Something that I have talked with these kids about since I got here is playing hard for four quarters and never giving up no matter what the outcome is going to be," the coach said. "The kids have responded to that and it speaks volumes of the type of character that these kids have and they are going to fight hard for four quarters."

Vail said even though it is late in the season with one game to play and the controversy they have faced with suspensions, injuries and players quitting the team, they have started to play as a team even though their season did not go the way they had planned for a return trip to the playoffs.

"Starting out, we thought that we would be on top of things and we had a lot of controversy and it let our team down, but after we got most of our team together, we started to work as a team and the underclassman will learn from this experience," Vail said.

Lone Oak quarterback Blaine Moore went 10-of-15 for 128 yards and one touchdown to Derek Harvey in the third quarter as Harvey had six receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown of 31 yards. Teammate Brandon Blunt had four catches for 57 yards.

The Grand Saline Indians wrapped up the third place spot in District 17-2A with a 36-0 victory over the Quitman Bulldogs at Bud Moody Stadium, and next week's match-up between the Buffaloes and the Caddo Mills Foxes will determine the district champion as both teams are undefeated in district play.

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