Buffalos earn district trophy by fighting to keep Iola game close
The Buffalo offensive line and rushing back Josh Goodwin clear a path for quarterback Gabe Murillo during last Friday's game against Anderson County. (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)
By Roger Sims, email@example.com
On Wednesday, Oct. 25, a few days after the Prairie View football team received the district championship trophy, head football coach Kyle Littrell pointed to a game the Buffalos lost as a deciding factor. It was the game at Iola a week earlier that Prairie View lost by a score of 18-33.
“Iola could have blown us out of that game,” Littrell said. But instead of folding, his team fought hard to put more points on the scoreboard, and that ended up being a lesson worth learning for his team.
The Buffalos jumped out to an early lead, but the Mustangs rallied before the half to take the lead by a touchdown. The Buffalos were able to make another touchdown in the second while keeping Iola from scoring more than twice.
Because of that the Buffalos were able to win the district champs trophy mostly by virtue of the point spread on the teams they defeated through week eight of the 2023 season.
Prairie View, Iola, and Burlington had identical district records at 3-1. Burlington had a better overall record of 5-3, however, the Buffalos had an average point difference of 12 points in district play while Iola had an average of less than 9 points and Burlington had 4.5 points.
The Buffalos will have home field advantage when they host Baxter Springs in the first round of the play-offs this Friday at 7 p.m. Both teams have 4-4 records for the season.
Littrell said that Baxter Springs is a lot like Iola. It has a quarterback that can throw and run well, a couple of 6’4” receivers, and a sophomore rushing back, who Littrell says reminds him of Otis Jacobs, a 5’11” running back who graduated from Prairie View in 2021.
Littrell said Friday’s game will pit the blitz of Baxter Springs against the rushing offense of the Buffalos. Who will have the edge?
“It’s going to be fun finding out," Littrell said.
Sophomore offensive lineman Johnny Colin blocks the Bulldog lineman.
'A personal game'
Last Friday’s win against Anderson County was savored by Littrell and his team.
Last year, the Bulldogs jumped to an early lead to beat the Prairie View Buffalos, 35-20, knocking them out of the regional playoffs.
On Friday, the Buffalos returned the favor, handily beating the 1-7 Bulldogs, 48-13.
“That was a very personal game for us,” Littrell said.
However, Anderson County got off to a start reminiscent of last year’s game, scoring on a 60 yard run for a touchdown about a minute into the game.
The Buffalos appeared ready to strike back quickly, but a fumble on what would have been a touchdown run resulted in the Bulldogs taking over on their own 15. But Anderson County’s drive fizzled after six plays and the Bulldogs punted the ball away.
Prairie View spent the remainder of the first quarter on eight plays from their own 42 to the Bulldog 6 yard line. From there, senior quarterback Gabe Murillo punched into the end zone on a keeper and with help on a point-after conversion by junior Elijah Williams, it was an 8-6 game in favor of Prairie View.
Anderson County had a third-and-out on their next possession, with the Buffalos beginning a drive to the Bulldog 11. The next play saw Prairie View give up the ball on a fumble on the 3 yard line.
Buffalo rushing back Parker Schwarz dodges Bulldog defenders.
But the Prairie View defense kept the Bulldogs deep in Bulldog territory, and Anderson County was forced to punt the ball away again. Beginning a drive near the 50 yard line, Prairie View advanced to the Bulldog 28 on successive carries by Murillo. But it was sophomore Parker Schwarz who broke through the line and crossed the goal line on a 28-yard run.
The 2-point conversion was good and the Buffalos were up 16-6 going into halftime.
It took Prairie View just over a minute to score after receiving the second half kickoff. Going to his cadre of running backs, Murillo used Williams, Schwarz, and sophomore Josh Goodwin to advance to the Bulldog 27. Schwarz found running room again for a touchdown, and a Murillo pass to Goodwin for the 2-point conversion put the Buffalos lead to 24-6.
On its next possession Anderson County put together an 11-play drive that had them on the Buffalo 13-yard line. But a pick-six by Schwarz on the Buffalo 2 for a 98-yard touchdown run, and a Murillo pitch to Williams on the 2-point conversion, and the Buffalos were up 32-6.
Anderson county went three-and-out on their next possession, and Prairie View took the punt return on their own 46 yard line. Inside the red zone on the Bulldog 7, a handoff to Goodwin for the touchdown and to Schwarz for the 2-point conversion boosted the Buffalos lead to 40-6.
Prairie View sophomore Jay Muse returned the Bulldogs next punt to just inside Anderson County territory. A run by Goodwin up the middle was good for 3 yards, followed Murillo on two plays scrambling down to the Bulldog 24 and Schwarz doing the rest for the touchdown. A pass to Goodwin was good again, and the Buffalos were up 48-6.
Prairie View linebackers Peyton Doty, left, and Grant Steenburgen stop the Bulldog rusher at the line of scrimmage.
The Bulldogs added to their score in the last two minutes of the game on a run from midfield. The point-after kick was good and the game ended with a Prairie View win, 48-13.
Murillo was the leading rusher for Prairie View, carrying the ball 15 times for 162 yards and one touchdown. Schwarz ran with the ball nine times for 111 yards and scored three touchdowns, Goodwin carried the ball 12 times for 80 yards and a touchdown, and Williams carried the ball five times for 38 yards.
On defense, senior Jacob Mills had 4.5 tackles, Schwarz had four tackles and an interception, and Williams had three tackles and forced a fumble. Freshman Carter Browning stepped up his game with two solo tackles and eight assists, and junior Grant Steenburgen had eight assists.
Senior Carsen Welch was credited for one of the four Buffalo sacks. Williams, Schwarz and Goodwin each had a sack as well.
The Buffalos had 391 yards of total offense in the game, all of it on the ground. The Bulldogs had 251 total yards with 237 rushing and 14 passing.