Last week, in my personal column, I talked about the respect I had for Coach Russel Joy and the approach he had to playing. I may have failed to mention that his players also have that approach; but, this week, I want to recognize the Mason Punchers for their maturity and professionalism while playing, even under some rather trying conditions.
More specifically, when playing in Goldthwaite. In a town that lives, breathes and eats football; and, where winning at all costs is the goal, it's difficult to JUST play the game.
Last Friday, though, Mason did just that.
Early in the first quarter, Goldthwaite jumped ahead with a 78 yard run, soon followed by a pass play to put the score 15-0 at the end of the quarter. The Goldthwaite fans, and their annoying air horn, were ecstatic at the prospect of a runaway victory. The Punchers were not impressed.
At the beginning of the second quarter, Mason scored on a Jared Hudson run. Shortly afterwards, Goldthwaite came back with a 65 yard run. Stephen Marquez of Mason took their kickoff return 71 yards for a score immediately after that. Goldthwaite was stunned.
They would score again with two minutes left in the half; but, Mason would again rattle their cage when the Punchers scored on another Hudson carry with only 21 seconds left in the half. When the buzzer signaled the half, the score was 29-19. The Eagles were not as confident of an easy victory as they had been earlier in the game.
The third quarter saw some tough, white knuckle football. The only score would be a run by Goldwaithe, and that would come very late in the quarter amid some very unusual officiating and questionable calls by those officials. Even then, the Punchers maintained their poise and continued to PLAY THE GAME.
The Eagles world began to unravel in the fourth quarter. The Punchers scored early in the fourth on a Justin Yonker 47-yard pass to A. J. Martinez. Goldthwaite came back almost immediately with another score, and then yet another.
The Punchers took a breath, sucked it up, and hit the Eagles with another wave. With just under six minutes left in the game, Justin Yonker scored on a 12-yard run. Then, with under two minutes remaining, Jared Hudson took the ball in once more. The Eagles took possession of the ball and took the easy way out, downing the ball till the final buzzer.
This game is not one the Goldthwaite Eagles should really brag about, even though the win put them at the top of the 1A rankings. The fact that the Punchers also remain in the top ten speaks volumes about what really went on, and who probably should have had the victory when the game was over.
Our Punchers know they played an honorable and honest game. Our fans know that some officials in the game made calls that were questionable, or outright wrong. And, our coaches know that the game is now past, and we have to look forward to 4-0 Menard this Friday night.
Menard has not had nearly the tough preseason schedule that Mason has, so this matchup could make for a great night of football. See you at Puncher Stadium Friday night at 7:30.