GIDDINGS — The Florence Buffaloes’ dream season came to an end at Giddings’ Buffalo Stadium on Friday night in a Division II-3A bi-district loss to the El Maton Tidehaven Tigers 27-7.
The Buffs sustained several long drives, but each time the drive would stall, forcing a punt or a turnover on fourth down.
Florence had four possessions in the first half, all of which chewed up the clock with long drives, but couldn’t muster any points to show for it.
“We moved the ball well all night, we just couldn’t finish drives” Florence head coach Zane Bode said. “We were inside their 20-yard line three times in the first half and came away with zero. They were inside ours twice in the first half and came away with 14.”
The first Florence drive went eight plays, started by a Martin Quenga kickoff return of 27 yards. But it stalled at the Tidehaven 29-yard line.
The Tigers’ first drive ended in a touchdown. Even though Tidehaven committed four penalties on the drive, Jacob Galvan found paydirt from 6 yards out, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Galvan ended the night with 166 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Florence’s second drive of seven plays ended when the Tigers stopped running back Edel Hernandez on fourth-and-2 from the Tidehaven 15-yard line.
Hernandez led the Buffs on the ground with 20 carries for 95 yards, and he added 18 yards receiving.
Both Landon Byrne and Alex Gamboa broke through the Tidehaven defense and were a big part of the first half of play.
The last Florence (5-6) possession, right before half, saw the Buffs go four plays, the longest of which came when quarterback CJ Giddens rolled to his right and hit Zack Pluhar for a 61-yard catch-and run-all the way to the 28-yard line. The drive ended on an interception on fourth-and-8.
In the second half, Tidehaven (8-2) received the ball first and went to work. A three-play drive that took a minute and half off the clock resulted in a 63-yard run from Bryce Galvan.
On the Buffs’ first drive of the half, they went for 42 yards on seven plays. The drive was keyed by two catches from Luis Olalde from Giddens. However, Gordo Moreno outreached a Florence receiver and picked off the pass on fourth-and-4 from the Florence 28-yard line.
Hernandez put Florence on the scoreboard with 17 seconds left in the game when he darted past three defenders for a 7-yard touchdown run. Kicker Masa Hashiguchi added the extra point.
Giddens threw for 142 yards in the loss.
The Buffaloes made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, and Bode expects this season to be the start of a tradition.
“Having an extra week of practice and letting them have a taste of postseason is huge,” Bode said. “We’re going to go to work and see what happens next season.”