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Mason Heads to Cowboy Stadium for State Playoff Game Against Stamford
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 • Posted December 14, 2011

The Mason Punchers made history on Friday night at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco when they defeated the Garrison Bulldogs 46-14, securing their spot at the state playoff game Thursday in Cowboy Stadium in Arlington.Rio Schmidt's squib on the opening kick ricocheted off a Bulldog player right into the arms of the Punchers. From a psychological standpoint, the Punchers had just made the opening shot in a game that would see the Mason team firing continual volleys at Garrison.After getting the ball on that opening kickoff, the Punchers marched down the field, and after just over two minutes, Austin Trip made a 12-yard pass to Jake Newsom. Rio Schmidt added the PAT, and the score was 7-0 with 9:43 left in the quarter.Garrison's offense would be unable to breach the formidable Mason defense, and the ball would finally return to Mason on downs just before the beginning of the second quarter. David Mora would make his first score of the night early in the second quarter after the Punchers made a long and slow drive down the field. Mora's final run was only three yards; but, it had required the entire field to get that score. Schmidt again provided the PAT, and the score was 14-0 with 11:30 left in the half.Garrison would finally get on the board with 6:38 left in the half when Dustin Strahan made a five-yard run to put the score at 14-6. The PAT attempt bounced off the goal posts, leaving Mason with an eight-point lead.Late in the half, Garrison again moved down the field, finally ending up on the Mason 1-yard line. The Puncher defense proved that they deserve the many words of praise they've gotten in the press when they held the Bulldogs outside the goal, with Austin Trip stopping Garrison's Strahan on that 1-yard line with the count at fourth and goal. It would be a deciding point in the game.The third quarter of play belonged to the Punchers, and Mason racked up three touchdowns to cement their lead over Garrison.The first came just one minute, and three plays, into the the half when Rio Schmidt took a long pass from Austin Trip and went 64 yards for the TD. Schmidt was still catching his breath from the run, and had a rare blocked kick on the PAT attempt, and the score was 20-6 with 11:01 left in the quarter.Garrison would have the ball for only a short time before it returned to Mason's control and Austin Trip would score on a one-yard run for the Punchers. Schmidt's kick went wide, and the score was 26-6 with 7:43 left in the quarter.Garrison tried to take advantage of their possession once more, and once again, the "Fat Boys" shut them down. When Mason again had the ball, they marched downfield and Mora would make a 1-yard dive for the score, and this time Schmidt's PAT was good. The score was 33-6 with 0:34 remaining in the third quarter.The fourth quarter saw two long runs by the Punchers for scores. The first was Mora on a 44-yard run, with the Schmidt PAT, putting the score at 40-6.The second run, and the final score for Mason of the night, was Rio Schmidt on a 62-yard run that brought the crowd to its feet as he made the long journey. He didn't have adequate time to recover before making the PAT attempt, and the score was 46-6 with 5:55 left in the game.Shortly afterwards, with Mason's second string on the field, Garrison finally made their second, and final, score of the night on a Strahan run. Logan Clark ran for the two points, and the score was 46-14 with 4:42 left in the game.Defensively, the Punchers held the Garrison offense to 115 yards in the first half. The Bulldogs ended the contest with 315 total yards of offense, while Mason tallied 349 yards. The Punchers now face one of their toughest tests of the season in Thursday’s final, facing a Stamford team that defeated defending champion Mart 47-28 in the other semifinal game Friday night in Brownwood. Coach Kade Burns is treating this Thursday's noon matchup in Arlington like all of the other games before. "Obviously, it is not like every other game; but, our preparation for it will be no different than all the previous ones," Burns said. "We have to get the team ready a day earlier than usual. We'll film some practices so that the boys can see some of the things they're doing well, and also see some things we don't like.""Offensively," Burns said, "they run the spread and have some fantastic athletes at the skill positions. Their quarterback is the head coach's son, and he can really operate."Burns said that Stamford has four wide receivers that all have tremendous speed that can go vertical at any moment. Their quarterback, Burns said, can run the ball and has the ability to hit receivers going downfield well beyond the 55-yard range."It is going to be a challenge for us to contain these guys with our defense," Burns told the News. "Their defense is a 4-3, and some odd man with various blitzes, with a combination of man and zone. They aren't as big as what we have faced in the last couple of weeks; but, they do many thing very well."A pep rally will be held on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. so that the team can leave at noon for the long trip to Arlington where they will spend the night prior to the game. There will be fans lining the route from the high school to Highway 87 North to see the team away. They should leave the high school around 11:45 a.m. to noon.The game is being played at Texas Cowboys Stadium, One Legends Drive in Arlington. Play begins at noon. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students.

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