Argonaut 35

Bret Harte 14

Even the clouds were tinged with Bullfrog purple as Argonaut kicked off to start the game Friday night at Bret Harte’s Dorroh Field.

But as the sun set, so did the ‘Frogs hopes of muscling out a win with an injury-riddled roster.

They fell to the Argonauts of Jackson 35-14 in the first Mother Lode League game of the season.

Bret Harte started their night offensively at their own five after a blocking penalty backed them up. But that didn’t unnerve the offense.

The passing game head coach Casey Kester emphasized in practice all week started to take shape from the first series as quarterback Ryan Kraft whipped a few quick passes to give the Bullfrogs their first first down of the night.

Pressure from Argonaut’s big defensive line forced a Bret Harte punt with 8:38 left in the first.

Then Argonaut’s run offense Kester knew was coming went to work, battering their way into Bullfrog territory.

The defense held on a fourth down attempt and the Bullfrogs took over on downs near the 20 with 4:20 left to play.

“They were scrappy,” said Kester.

But Bret Harte held their own, especially in the first half.

Kraft threw two crisp completions to move Bret Harte into Argonaut territory.

As the first quarter ended, a Kraft to Cameron Silva pass left the Bullfrogs with a third and short to begin the second quarter.

Bret Harte attempted a field goal on fourth down, but it was blocked, and Argonaut took over on the 10.

The defensive line that Kester knew would have to step up their game, despite being banged up, did just that, holding the Mustangs to a series of short rushing gains and one pass good enough for a first down.

A holding penalty on Argonaut brought up a third and 28. The defense held, forcing a punt.

Michael Hughes was tackled at the 20 and Kraft went back to work with 6:18 to play in the half.

The Mustangs forced a three and out.

The Bullfrogs were called twice for an illegal shift on their punt attempts.

The third attempt, with 3:55 left in the half, was successful and Argonaut started their drive at the Bullfrog 45.

The Mustangs were the first on the board after a slippery 20-plus rushing play. The point after attempt was good and the score was 7-0 with 1:25 left in the half.

With about 20 seconds left in the half, Argonaut ran a hook and ladder, but the Bullfrogs defense kept them out of the endzone. The score remained 7-0 at the half.

The Mustangs received the ball to begin the second half.

On the first series, the Bullfrogs forced a fumble. The Mustangs recovered but suffered a loss on the play and were forced to punt one down later.

The Frogs’ first play of the half was a gem from Kraft up the left sideline.

Kraft threw another to Julian Gonzales, who lept up over the defender in the endzone to make the catch. The point after attempt tied the game 7-7 with 8:34 left in the third.

The Mustangs added another touchdown. But Bret Harte senior Michael Hughes was injured on the play. Players from both teams took a knee while medical personnel assessed Hughes. He was carried off the field with what appeared to be a leg injury.

Once play resumed, t he point after attempt was good and the score was 14-7 with 6:45 left in the third.

On the next possession, the offense rolled through the Argonaut defensive scheme. Kraft needed a quarterback draw and a short pass before running the ball 60 yards for a touchdown. The point after was good and the game was tied with 5:11 to go in third.

Argonaut grabbed the lead on the next series, moving the score to 21-14 with 3:43 left to play in the third.

Argonaut seized the momentum and forced a punt. But an errant snap allowed Argonaut to pressure the kicker in the endzone. The kick ended up at the 10 and two plays later the Mustangs punched it through, giving them a 28-14 lead with 1:57 left in the third.

“That took everything away from us. That was the end of the game,” said Kester.

Special teams will be a focus on next week’s practice, he said.

On the first series on the fourth quarter Kraft threw an interception and the Mustangs took over at midfield with 11:52 left in the game.

A Mustang fumble and a Mustang fumble recovery set up another touchdown drive. With 10:04 left in the game the score was 35-14.

The Bullfrogs picked up a penalty for roughing the kicker and started their next drive on their own 20.

Bret Harte and Argonaut then traded a series of three and outs. Argonaut got the ball with five minutes to play and used their run game to eat up the clock.

With 30 seconds left, the Mustangs took a knee to end the game.

Kester said he hopes to have some of the injured players back on the field next week.

And the passing game is improving, with Kraft having more time to throw, said Kester.

Bret Harte will play at Winters High School next Friday at 7:30 p.m.