By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
FLORENCE - The theme of the Florence football season continued Friday.
It can't stop the run and it can't take advantage of its opponent's mistakes.
Despite seven fumbles (three lost) McGregor still ran for 416 yards and defeated the Buffaloes 39-20 at Stampede Stadium.
"We were having trouble stopping the run, but what hurt us was not making plays when we had the opportunity," said Florence coach Paul Smith. "We made mistakes at critical times in the ballgame.
"Our kids are good enough to beat (McGregor), but you can't turn the ball over and you have to stop them on fourth down."
More than anything, though, Florence again struggled to stop McGregor running back Marcus Irons, who carried the ball 24 times for 183 yards.
The bruising running back scored both of the Bulldogs' touchdowns in the first half - the first on a 4-yard plunge and the second on a 7-yard scamper.
"The running game was really good to us tonight," said McGregor coach Tim Seward. "But, we made too many mistakes and we have to clean up our act."
Early on, Florence quarterback Doak
Hensley only found a rhythm with wide receiver Balentin Carranco. The two hooked up seven times for 49 yards. The first of which was a 3-yard touchdown pass that put the Buffaloes up 6-0 in the first quarter.
Later, two personal fouls by McGregor - both facemask penalties - helped Florence down the field in the second quarter. The Buffaloes capped off the McGregor-aided drive with a 1-yard run by Michael Ramirez.
As a result, Florence was only down 13-12 at the half.
However, the short-yardage touchdown run was about the only positive in the Buffaloes ground game. They only ran for 1 yard -- thanks to three sacks and two fumbles that racked up the negative yardage.
"It is a size matchup for us," Smith said. "We played tonight with a right guard that weighs 150 pounds, a center that weighed 140 and a freshman right tackle. We have to have some meat up front.
"We couldn't run block them. I tried to run the ball. It didn't work, so we had to throw the ball.
"That is all we can do."
Hensley finished 24-of-54 passing for 236 yards.
The lone Buffaloes score of the second half came when Hensley found Davis open at the 40, and the Florence wide receiver took it down the sideline for the 53-yard score.
Davis, much like Carranco was in the first half, was Hensley's primary target in the second half. He finished with 10 receptions for 157 yards.
But late in the fourth quarter, the big pass plays did not come.
Down 32-20 and almost in McGregor territory at the 41, Hensley was intercepted. Then after stopping McGregor deep in its territory, Florence had one more opportunity.
However, Hensley's pass bounced high off of Carranco's pads and was picked off again.
Bulldog quarterback Troy Allison then finished off the Buffaloes with a 2-yard keeper for a touchdown.
"They are about 85 percent pass and they have a good quarterback," Seward said. "But, I thought our defense stepped up in the second half, limiting them to one score."