On paper, Junction was supposed to beat Mason. The sportswriters, soothsayers of the pigskin realm, had all picked the Eagles to upset Mason's march to the playoffs. Instead, the Punchers downed Junction 20-7 last Friday night, throwing a considerable monkey wrench into the district standings, and providing a night of great football to the fans that made the short journey out west.
Mason took the kickoff from Junction to start the game, and for the next four minutes of play, they controlled the ball. Though progress was slow, the Punchers continued a steady push downfield, culminating in a final Jared Hudson run for the score followed by a Justin Yonker kick, and the score was 7-0 with 7:56 remaining in the quarter.
Mason kicked off to Junction and it seemed that the Eagles were ready to make good on the threat they had posed all week. Except, the Junction pass only a few short plays into their possession went not to one of their players, but to Mason's A. J. Martinez who took the ball back to within yards of the goal line.
Mason once again began their slow but inevitable push, and again, it would be a Jared Hudson run that put the points on the board for the Punchers with 5:02 remaining in the quarter, and the score was 13-0.
In the second quarter, possession of the ball bounced back and forth between the teams. Junction broke out at one point, but had the touchdown called back for an illegal block, and that would be the closest the two teams came to scoring during the first half.
When the Eagles returned from the locker room after half time, it was obvious that they had received some intense coaching and advice, and they renewed their efforts to gain control of the game. However, it would not be until late in the third quarter when they would finally score on a Dustin Stapp run, followed up by a Ashton Thomas kick, to put the score at 13-7 with 4:37 remaining in the quarter.
The Punchers knew that this was too fragile a lead to carry them for the rest of the game, and their half time coaching and advice also kicked in. They began a concentrated push against the Eagles, finally resulting in the final score of the evening when Jared Hudson made the final carry, followed up by the inevitable Justin Yonker kick, to put the score at 20-7, with only 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter became a test of endurance as Junction struggled to come back from their deficit, and the Punchers valiantly held on to their lead. Both teams exhibited incredible stamina and determination; but, when the final buzzer blew, it would be Mason's victory.
This Friday, Mason has an open night. Junction will travel to Menard to take on the Yellowjackets, and the outcome of that match will either make Mason co-champ of the district, or champion.