GOLDTHWAITE — The running game and the kicking game led the Mason Punchers past the Goldthwaite Eagles on Friday night. Rio Schmidt had a lot to do with both decisive factors.
Fifth-ranked Mason rallied in the second half for a 31-14 win over Goldthwaite as Schmidt rushed for 111 yards and two scores after halftime. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior also set up a score with a 34-yard kickoff return, kicked a 26-yard field goal and pinned Goldthwaite deep in its end of the field with four touchbacks on kickoffs.
“When you get the opportunity to return a kick, it gives you a lot of momentum. It can jumpstart a drive,” said Schmidt, who finished with 124 yards rushing and touchdowns of 4, 6 and 41 yards. “On the other hand when you get a touchback against you, it’s almost demoralizing because there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Mason extended its win streak to 17 games overall and 13 games during the regular season by rushing for 316 yards and scoring the game’s final 21 points after Goldthwaite had taken a 14-10 third-quarter lead on Logan Harper’s 74-yard touchdown run. In addition to Schmidt, tailback Raul Silguero rushed for a game-high 129 yards for the Punchers and quarterback Elliot Bibb added 55 yards.
“We feel we have to run the ball to win,” said Kade Burns, now a perfect 17-0 as the Punchers’ head coach. “We were sporadic in the first half because we had a turnover and some negative plays, wasted plays, that just killed us. We cleaned that up in the second half, and we were able to move the ball.”
Of the difference Schmidt made in the kicking game, Burns said: “He’s definitely a weapon. He can almost kick it through the goal posts on a kickoff. It’s very beneficial to have the other team have to start at their 25-yard line nearly every time.”
Schmidt scored on runs of 6 and 41 yards in the fourth quarter as Mason, the reigning Class 1A Division I state champion, pulled away.
“Coach Burns always tells us to win the first half and dominate the second half,” Schmidt said of Mason’s running game. “We played our butts off in the first half, but then we played even harder in the second half. The guys up front (linemen) blocked like mad dogs tonight.”
Goldthwaite, meanwhile, fell to 0-2 for the first time in nine years and saw an even game slip away by being outscored 14-0 in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive week.
“Being a young team is part of it,” said Eagles coach Gary Proffitt, whose team has now lost five of seven games dating to last season. “Mason just has a little more experience than we do, and their size wore on us.”
After Harper’s 74-yard run gave Goldthwaite the lead in the third quarter, Cody Wood returned a squib kickoff to near midfield. Schmidt’s 18-yard run on fourth-and-2 from the Eagles’ 34-yard line set up Bibb’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Wood that gave the Punchers the lead for good at 17-14 with 3:26 left in the third quarter.
Goldthwaite answered with a drive to the Mason 32, but halfback Taylor Stephens was stopped a yard short of a first down on fourth-and-3.
The Punchers finally secured the win with a 56-yard drive in the fourth quarter. Runs of 17 yards by Silguero and 18 yards by Bibb led to Schmidt’s 6-yard scoring run that extended Mason’s lead to 24-14 with 2:58 left.
Schmidt added a 41-yard touchdown run with 1:12 to play.
“We knew coming in that Goldthwaite had a good team,” Schmidt said. “They play smash-mouth, which is what we like to do. This was a good game for us. It was like a building block. We had to have endurance. It was a challenge.”
Schmidt returned the second-half kickoff 34 yards to the Eagles’ 46, setting up his 26-yard field goal that gave the Punchers a 10-6 lead 3:47 into the third quarter.
Mason led 7-6 at the half as each team put together a methodical touchdown drive of 80-plus yards in the final minute of each quarter.
Goldthwaite drove 83 yards on a six-minute drive sparked by runs of 16 yards by fullback Rigo DeLa Cruz and 20 yards by halfback Dakota Perry. Stephens, normally a 6-3, 205-pound tight end, was put at halfback and scored on a 1-yard run to give the Eagles a 6-0 lead with 27 seconds left in the first quarter.
At that point, the usually flawless Punchers had lost a fumble, been penalized four times, and had run only five offensive plays. They rallied, though, with an 81-yard drive that took more than six minutes as Mason’s running game began to find consistent gains.
Bibb, who already had broken an 18-yard run, converted a fourth-and-1 from the Eagles’ 44 to extend the drive. Schmidt scored on a 4-yard run, and his extra-point kick gave Mason a 7-6 lead with 41 seconds left before halftime.
MASON 31, GOLDTHWAITE 14
Mason 0 7 10 14 — 31
Goldthwaite 6 0 8 0 — 14
G: Taylor Stephens 1 run (kick failed), 0:27, 1st
M: Rio Schmidt 4 run (Schmidt kick), 0:41, 2nd
M: Schmidt 26 FG, 8L13, 3rd
G: Logan Harper 74 run (Stephens run), 6:41, 3rd
M: Cody Wood 26 pass from Elliot Bibb (Schmidt kick), 3:26, 3rd
M: Schmidt 6 run (Schmidt kick). 2:58, 4th
M: Schmidt 41 run (Schmidt kick), 1:12, 4th
First downs 20 18
Total Offense 393 344 Rushes-Yards 45-316 36-242
Passing Yards 77 102
C-A-I 7-12-0 7-15-1
Fumbles Lost 4-1 2-1
Penalties 8-66 2-20
Punts 1-58 3-32.3
M: Raul Silguero 15-129, Rio Schmidt 16-124, Elliot Bibb 12-55, Luis Castillo 2-8.
G: Logan Harper 9-115, Dakota Perry 14-86, Rigo DeLa Cruz 2-19, T.R. Jones 6-15, Joseph Paddock 3-4, Taylor Stephens 2-3.
M: Mason — Bibb 7-12-0 for 77.
G: Jones 7-15-1 for 102.
M: Cody Wood 2-36, Miguel Castillo 2-20, Woody Watson 2-9, Silguero 1-12
G: Stephens 4-39, Ryan Wright 2-55, Eric Chavez 1-8.