Justin Coker rushed for 95 yards and Tanner Ruiz scored with just under two minutes left in the game, as Coahoma defeated Stanton 20-16 in the two teams' district opener Friday night.
After trailing the Buffaloes the entire game, Ruiz's nine yard run with 1: 57 left on the clock pushed the Bulldogs into the win column. Coahoma had received the ball for their final possession — and last chance — after short punt and started on the 36 yard line of Stanton.
Stanton lit up the scoreboard first when Tim Anderson capped off their opening drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Andres Chavez added the extra point. After tough stand defensively, the Buffaloes went into the second quarter with a 7-0 lead.
In the second frame, Stanton drove the field again, but Coahoma got a little tougher inside the red zone and the Buffaloes settled for a 36-yard Chavez field goal.
Cage Miller put the icing on Coahoma's next drive with just over five minutes left in the first half when he pounded his way through for a nine-yard touchdown run. Marco Molina's extra point sent the two teams into the locker rooms with Stanton on top 10-7.
The Buffaloes added to their lead early in the fourth quarter when Taylor Spinks forced himself across the goal line on a two-yard run. Coahoma blocked the extra point attempt, but the Bulldogs were left facing a 16-7 hill to climb.
“When we went down by two scores, we were not sure if we had enough time left,” Coahoma head coach Trey Gardner said. “We're not a quick-strike team and the coaches were a bit concerned at that point.”
But Coahoma responded to the Stanton score by driving 67 yards Ruiz hit Aaron Acevedo on a 15-yard route, closing the Buffalo lead to just two points and swinging the momentum to their own side of the field for the first time in the ball game. It carried over to the defense and the Buffaloes were unable to gain any ground on their next possession, leaving too much time on the clock.
“After we scored, I told the kids we absolutely had to stop them,” Coach Gardner. “And they did. They did not give up a single yard on the next series. That was huge.”
Pressure by the Bulldogs forced a short punt out of bounds and gave the ball back to Coahoma on Stanton's 36 yard line.
“We made some mistakes in this game,” Coach Gardner added. “But every time we needed someone to step up and make a good play, someone responded. Whether it was on offense, defense or special teams, they stepped up when we needed them to.”
After sprinting 17 yards for a first down on a fourth and two, keeping Coahoma's comeback hopes alive, Ruiz broke free for a six-yard, go-ahead touchdown run with two minutes left in the game.
The Buffaloes had some time and a couple of timeouts available, but any chance of taking the lead back was lost when Coahoma's Miller stepped in front of a Chavez pass and intercepted it.
COAHOMA 20-STANTON 16
Stanton 7 3 0 6 —16
Coahoma 0 7 0 13 —20
First downs 12 11
Rushes-yards 35-141 44-160
Passing yards 61 29
Comp.-Att.-Int. 6-7-1 2-5-0
Punts-Avg. 3-(-1.3) 3-19.6
Fumbles-lost 2-0 3-1
Penalties-yards 3-25 6-48
RUSHING — Stanton, Tim Anderson 13-81, Taylor Spinks 12-31, Andres Chavez 9-24, Oscar Reyna, 1-7.
Coahoma, Justin Coker 16-95, Tanner Ruiz 13-29, Cage Miller 7-26, Aaron Acevedo 7-27.
PASSING — Stanton, Chavez 5-6-1—61.
Coahoma, Ruiz 2-5-0—29.
RECEIVING — Stanton, Ethan Mauldin 1-22, Ruben Cazares 1-15, Reyna 1-14, Nathen Koonce 1-8, Conaway 1-2. Coahoma, Acevedo 2-29.
INTERCEPTIONS — Coahoma, Miller 1-0.