By TAYLOR LUCKIE
The Union Democrat
The Argonaut Mustangs have long been known as one of the most feared football teams in the Mother Lode League behind their power run game. However, after going 4-4 through their first eight games, the Mustangs looked like there might be a chink in their armour and the Bret Harte Bullfrogs planned to capitalize.
Instead, Argonaut stuck to their guns, and their run, and didn't throw the ball all night on their way to a 42-7 victory over the Bullfrogs.
Behind senior Tyler Love's team-high 83 yards and four touchdowns, the Mustangs ran their way to a 319 yards. This offensive effort, combined with a strong defensive performance, proved to be too much for the Bullfrogs.
Held scoreless for most of the first quarter, Argonaut's first points came with3:51remaining, when Love scored his first TD on the night, a 9-yard scamper to put his team up 7-0.
Less than two minutes later, following a Bret Harte turnover, Love took it in from the 4
Looking for a solution to the early 14-0 problem, Bullfrog quarterback Jacob Bailey led his team on a 65-yard scoring drive.
Bret Hare used a balanced offensive attack of run and pass plays, capped with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Bailey to Peter Conrado to cut the deficit in half, 14-7.
"It was a hitch route, and I just saw Jacob rolling out left and the ball came right into my hands" Conrado said of his catch and run. "My first instinct was to spin, and then I just took off as fast as I could. I heard the guy next to me so I just dove onto the pylon and made it."
"It was just a routine pass route," Bailey said. "I rolled out, saw that Peter was open, and threw it to him just like an everyday kind of pass and saw him run and score that touchdown."
Unfortunately for the Bullfrogs, they could not get much else done on offense.
Other than that 65-yard drive, Bret Harte gained another 75 yards the rest of the game.
Immediately following the Bullfrogs' touchdown, Argonaut's Joey Guidi took Jack Gilbert's kickoff 83 yards for the score.
Love followed with his final two touchdowns of the night. He took the first of the two from the 9-yard line again, and later with a 31-yarder. After the dust settled from that scoring outburst, the score was 35-7.
The Mustangs would find paydirt one more time, when senior Caleb Patrick took it in from 17 yards out to make it 42-7.
Despite the loss, the Bret Harte coaching staff recognized the Bullfrogs' heart and effort.
"We knew we could run, offensively, the plays that we do to maintain ball control," said Bullfrog Head Coach Jon Byrnes. "We made some mistakes, had a few interceptions that took away from that strategy. I thought we could have done better, but we are pleased with the effort. The second quarter was tough, with them rallying for three scores in four minutes. That's tough, but when the score was 14-7 we liked what we were doing. There were a couple of mistakes and you can't give the ball back to that offense. Hats off to the Argonaut kids."
As for the final game of the season, Bret Harte plans to put this loss behind them and bring nothing but their best to the table against rival Calaveras.
The team views this annual game as its own championship between the two teams, and the Bullfrogs want a win.
"Our mindset is great" Byrnes said. "I told the kids going into the game that I wanted to be in a place, wanted them to be in a place, where we are positive and our outlook is good for the final push, the biggest game of the year. They're in that place, and they're primed and ready."