MIDLAND — Howard County rivals Forsan and Coahoma met Thursday at the ASCO Football Madness opener at Grande Communications Stadium, in what was the first football game played in the state for the 2012 season.
The Buffaloes and Bulldogs battled through early afternoon heat, cramps and dehydration issues, and a scoreboard that failed during the first quarter, leaving both teams coaches to manage the time without an official time clock.
When the smoke cleared, Forsan was the victor, narrowly defeating Coahoma — who won least year's meeting by a point — 30-27.
Coahoma won the coin toss and on the first possession marched down the field and scored in what was a textbook drive capped with a Tanner Ruiz touchdown followed by a sneaky two-point conversion, giving the Bulldogs an early 8-0 lead.
Undaunted, Forsan QB Marcus Cervantes hit Trevor Williams for a 23-yard touchdown. Williams would add a field goal in the second quarter to extend the Buffs' lead to 10-8.
Two lost fumbles in the second quarter would be detrimental to Coahoma, as Forsan capitalized, turning the error into seven more points for a score of 17-8.
Ruiz — who rushed for two scores and passed for two — broke for an 81-yard touchdown run to cut Forsan's lead to two points. The Buffs would cling to a 17-15 lead headed into halftime.
The third quarter is when both squads started to struggle.
The early afternoon heat (kickoff was at 4 p.m.), began to take its toll on the players. Cramping and dehydration set in, creating situations where substitutions and switching spots were necessary. Combined with the lack of a time clock, it made for some interesting football.
Both teams came charging out the gate, but midway through the quarter they had combined for negative yardage.
Coahoma broke the slump early in the fouth quarter when Cage Miller caught a 17-yard pass from Ruiz to make it a 21-17 game.
Forsan again answered back after a 40-yard burn by RB Brendan Roman, who rushed for 106 yards and three touchdowns during the affair.
With the Buffs ahead 24-21, Coahoma wasn't finished. Ruiz tagged T.J. White for a 14-yard touchdown, keeping the see-saw battle going and taking a 27-24 lead.
The final scoring drive of the game saw Forsan's Cervantes pick up a key first down after running the option followed by a Roman first down conversion.
Trevor Burchett chipped in with a few yards and then missed catching a deep pass from Cervantes a few yards shy of the end zone. TE Kade Fannin came through with a first down reception and Roman, who was Forsan's workhorse all day, carried the ball nine yards for the final score of the day as the Buffaloes edged the Bulldogs 3-27.
Though both teams played well, Coahoma Head Coach Trey Gardner admitted his team made some costly faux pas.
“You can't make that many mistakes and expect to win,” Gardner said. “(Forsan) just played a cleaner game than we did.”
On the positive side, big plays were made by the 'Dogs.
“We some things well,” Gardner added. “We took the opening drive and marched down the field. We have some things to build on. We felt like offensively, we killed ourselves. We can't have as many penalties, we can't have as many fumbles, but I take nothing away from Forsan. Coach Phillips does a great job over there and they made fewer mistakes than we made. They deserved to win that game.”
As for Forsan Head Coach Jason Phillips, he hopes his team can draw confidence from the hard-fought win.
“We have trying to get the guys geared up for this game since day one,” Phillips said. “They really turned it up a notch in the fourth quarter. I am proud of them. It was a big step ahead for us. It was like a playoff-type atmosphere. Hopefully we can use this win as momentum.”
Next on the agenda for Coahoma will be a road trip to Coleman next Friday, as the Buffaloes travel to Plains.