SAN MARCOS, TX — The Mason Punchers traveled to San Marcos on Thursday, November 16, for their Area Round playoff matchup against the Ganado Indians. Defense ruled much of the contest, but Ganado took advantage of explosive plays throughout the game to slowly pull away from Mason in the 2nd half. The Punchers fell in the second round, 37-12.
Watch the game highlights here:
Granado received the opening kickoff and immediately went to work. The Indians completed several passes to move the ball down the field until Mason finally slowed them down around the Punchers’ 35-yard line. Mason forced a 4th down attempt, but Ganado converted with inches to spare. The Indians continued to push closer toward the end zone before scoring from 16 yards out. Ganado struck first to lead 7-0.
Mason’s offense returned the touchdown with one of its own on the Punchers’ opening possession. Mason’s usual power run up the middle found little success early, but a 30+ yard pass on 3rd and long pushed Mason inside Ganado’s 35-yard line. The Punchers leaned on their run game after that to push the ball inside the 10. Mason scored a 1-yard touchdown but missed the ensuing extra point. On the extra point attempt, Ganado burst through the line and blocked the kick. The Indians then scooped up the ball and sprinted to the opposite end zone. Instead of tying the game, Mason trailed 9-6.
The rest of the first half devolved into a defensive battle, with both teams having multiple punts. Ganado finally broke the stalemate with a touchdown run from the 1-yard line with just over two minutes to play in the 2nd quarter. Mason failed to respond before halftime, and the Punchers trailed 16-6 at the break.
Mason received the 2nd half kickoff and needed a response to stay in this game. The Punchers began the first drive in the 2nd half at midfield. Sutton Silerio immediately made an impact with a 21-yard run on the first play of the possession. Ryan Todd then took the football into the red zone. The combination of Silerio and Todd ground down Ganado’s defense until Todd finally punched it in from eight yards out. Another missed extra point left the score at 16-12 early in the 3rd quarter.
An excellent kick return set Ganado up at the Punchers’ 40-yard line. A holding call set the Indians back after a big run, but Mason could not contain Ganado. The Indians set up a screen at the perfect time on 2nd and long. Mason blitzed on the play, and Ganado made them pay. A 45-yard sprint later, Ganado scored another touchdown. The Indians extended the lead to 11 to lead 23-12 midway through the 3rd quarter.
Mason failed to score again on the next possession but pinned Ganado back at the Indians’ 2-yard line. This failed to slow down the Indians as Ganado drove the ball 98 yards down the field, drained the remainder of the 3rd quarter, and scored another touchdown.
In the 4th quarter, the Punchers kept fighting but looked tired on defense. Ganado added another touchdown to put the game away, and the Indians won the Area Championship 37-12.
The turning point in the game had to be the blocked extra point in the 1st quarter. Instead of a 7-7 tie, the 9-6 advantage the Indians gained allowed them to set the tone for the rest of the first half. Mason played tough on defense for the first three quarters but could not muster enough offense to keep up.
Mason’s 2023 campaign ends in the Area Round to Ganado, but the Punchers still have much to be proud of this season. Mason finished the regular season perfect record, with a win over the Wall Hawks, an outright district championship, and a Bi-District Championship. The Punchers will be back next season with more experience and hungry for another shot at a state title.