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Things sure looked good for the San Benito High Haybalers during the first few minutes of the its game against the Salinas High Cowboys at Andy Hardin Stadium – but things quickly changed.

The Balers first drive, an 80-yard methodical push to the Cowboys’ 17-yard line that ended in a missed field goal, ended up being the exception and not how the rest of the game played out.

Instead it was the now 2-3 Cowboys who found the holes in the run game, to rack up more than 200 yards on the ground, in a 20-7 romp over the hosting Balers. Three costly turnovers by the Balers gave the Cowboys good field position throughout the night and ended Baler drives before they were able to get started.

“The bottom line is they just kicked our butt at the line of the scrimmage today,” Baler (3-3, 1-1 TCAL) head coach Chris Cameron said.

“They kicked our butt on both sides of the ball.”

Salinas High controlled the ball for most of game nearly doubling San Benito’s play from scrimmage – 56 to 31. The Cowboys only had 240 yards of total offense but the Balers could only muster 122.

“I think we ran four plays in the third quarter?” Cameron said. “We didn’t get the ball … and they just took it to us.”

Cameron attributed the lack of running lanes to miscues and missing blocking assignments.

“Part of the thing … when we were trying to get to the perimeter we weren’t blocking the perimeter real well,” he said. “Part of that is mental, they weren’t really stoning us offensively but we were hurting ourselves a lot.”

For the Cowboys it was their defense that was looking for turnovers, Salinas High Head Coach Steve Goodbody said. “We have been talking about turnovers – we are playing good defense but we weren’t getting turnovers,” he said. “Luckily they made a few mistakes and we were able to get the ball and put it in the endzone.”

But for Salinas, they started on their heels.

The Balers first drive of the game started on their own 22-yard line but quickly, the Balers got big chunks of yards from the option, sweeping the ball to James Sanchez.

The big play on the drive, though, belonged to Cody Hendricks who ran the ball for five yards up the middle but was tackled by a facemask.

With 15 yards added on to the run – the Balers were inside the 15-yard line. It was there, where the drive and offense stalled.

“Our offense did good in the first drive and a couple drive but mistakes that don’t need be made (hurt us),” Hendricks said.

Nearly a third, nine to be exact, of the Balers offensive plays took place during the opening drive.

After the missed field goal and a one first down drive by the Cowboys, the Balers took the ball on their 26-yard line, hoping to replicate their first drive.

Two plays later, though, the Balers put the ball on the ground after a mishandled handoff by Quarterback Tyler Decker.

The rejuvenated Cowboys decided to just hand the ball off – letting their plethora of running backs find the holes. Running back Josh Estassi was the workhorse for the Cowboys, carrying the ball 23 times and running for 101 yards and a second quarter touchdown.

“That’s one of our strengths,” Goodbody said. “We don’t have a big guy but we have a bunch of guys we can put in there.”

Estassi’s touchdown came 9 plays after the turnover, putting the Haybalers in an early hole that they were never able to climb out of.

“The are a better team than we are and they physically took it to us,” Cameron said.

The Cowboys were able to force three total turnovers from the Balers, including two fumbles that accounted for 10 points. The third came late in the second half, when the Balers were trying to make a comeback and Decker threw an interception with little more than a minute left in the game.

Decker, who only had two passes in the first half, threw for 60 yards in the second half, including a 36-yard touchdown to James Flook.

Flook’s touchdown came when the Balers, trailing 20-0, were forced to throw the ball with less than 5 minutes in the game. As Decker

scrambled to the right side of the scrimmage, Flook shifted to the

left and became wide open.

A quick pass by Decker, allowed Flook to run downfield and only have to avoid one tackle to get into the endzone. The Balers recovered the ensuing onside kick, but three plays later, Decker threw an interception after he was sacked twice.

For the Balers, it was simple – they were beaten at their own game

thanks to miscues.

“That will be a couple of film sessions right there … we need to go

back and keep on working,” Cameron said. “Hats off to them, they came here and took it to us. They are the better football team.”

Look back for the full box score.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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