By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
MCGREGOR - Florence just could not stop McGregor - even when it seemed like the Buffaloes already had.
With time winding down in the first half, the Bulldogs looked like they would run out the clock. Instead, quarterback Troy Allison chucked the ball 58 yards down field to Keith Reineke, who caught it and went out of bounds at the 3-yard line.
Hubert Sadler then capped off the drive - and the half - with a 1-yard plunge to give McGregor a 31-6 lead.
The play was indicative of the night the Buffaloes had as they fell 50-14 to McGregor at Bulldog Stadium.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs stopped a three-game skid, that including losses to Waco Reicher, China Spring and Little-River Academy by a combined 11 points.
"We've been a little banged-up, a little hurt, those kinds of things. But they're going to start coming together," said McGregor coach Tim Seward. "I think you saw us getting our mojo back a little bit. That's what we always talk about. You could feel it on the sidelines."
McGregor (3-3, 1-1 12-2A DI) piled up 541 yards of total offense against the Buffaloes (3-3, 0-2), doing most of its rushing damage (275 yards) in the first half and most of its passing damage (266) in the second half.
It could have been worse, though. McGregor missed six of its eight extra-point attempts.
One of Florence's two highlights was a 61-yard touchdown run by Kaleb Hardy, where the junior quarterback faked the option pitch and sped up field for the score to cut the Bulldogs' first quarter lead to 12-6.
The Buffaloes certainly tried, though. In fact, they tried everything.
Twice they went for a fourth-down conversion inside their own 50. The first time they didn't get it and McGregor answered with a 23-yard touchdown run by Abel Benitez, who also scored on a 24-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The second time Florence tried to convert, Clay Navarette faked a punt and picked up the first down. The Buffaloes did not stop there. They also converted a fourth-and- 1 and also tried a hook and ladder on another fourth down, which actually picked up a first down.
"When you are playing a team that is the class of McGregor - that is picked to be the district champs - you have to do some things creative," Florence coach Paul Smith said. "We were trying to create scoring opportunities for our kids and put them in a position to be successful."
But mistakes and missed tackles cost the Buffaloes. Hardy was picked off in the first quarter by McGregor's Damaun Tucker, who returned it 80 yards for the touchdown.
"That interception was a big deal. It should have been a first down on pass interference," Smith said. "They thought we were punting, the officials thought we were punting and (McGregor) rode the kid out of bounds. That is pass interference, but the officials didn't see it."
But, even if Florence could have passed the ball effectively, it still could not stop McGregor's ground game, which ran for 189 yards in the first half alone.
"That's the key. When we were able to open up our running attack early, we had 189 yards rushing in the first half, it just opens everything else up," Seward said. "I thought our quarterbacks did an outstanding job of checking plays at the line of scrimmage, getting us out of bad plays and into good plays."
Keith Reineke, who had 108 yards rushing, 124 receiving and even threw three passes, had touchdown runs of 43 and 1 yards in the first quarter.
"I think they made adjustments because they were struggling and moved their playmakers where they can make plays," Smith said.
Florence's second half highlight was a 71-yard touchdown strike from Hardy to Lupe Acevedo, who had 114 yards receiving for the Buffaloes. However, McGregor scored the last 19 points to put the game away.