By Ross Johnson

The Union Democrat

The Sonora High Wildcats traveled to Amador Friday, defeating the Buffaloes 49-21.

The Buffaloes drew first blood two minutes into the game, scoring from 22 yards out to take an early 7-0 lead.

On the Wildcats’ ensuing possession, junior quarterback Jake Gookin threw an interception to senior Buffalo defensive back Brandon Wright, who returned the ball to Sonora’s 46-yard line. Two plays later, junior Wildcat defensive end Tyler Matyshock caught an interception of his own, returning the ball to his team’s own 49. But Sonora earned only one first down on their next drive, turning the ball over on downs.

The Wildcats then forced an Amador punt, with senior defensive back Rico Sanchez returning the punt 41 yards to Amador’s 15-yard line. Two plays later, Sanchez caught a 9-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven with 47 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Sonora then forced a punt on Amador’s next drive and put together a 10-play, 85-yard scoring drive. The drive culminated in a one yard touchdown run up the middle by senior fullback Jack Camara to put the Wildcats up 14-7 with seven minutes remaining in the half.

On the next Amador drive, a critical sack by senior Wildcat defensive lineman Anthony Roque forced a Buffalo punt. The Wildcats then ran a flea flicker to score, with Matyshock completing a 47-yard pass to junior wide receiver Evan Bearden to go up 21-7 with 3:49 remaining in the second quarter.

The Buffaloes quickly fought back on their next drive when sophomore quarterback Gus Gedney threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Zach Ricketts within 30 seconds. A successful point after kick left the score at 21-14 with 3:25 left in the half.

But Gookin gave the ball right back to Amador when he fumbled at his own 29-yard line. Senior Buffalo defensive back Cody Nelson recovered and advanced the ball to Sonora’s five yard line. Wright then scored from a yard out, and another successful point after tied the score at 21 with 2:16 left.

The Wildcats hustled to score before halftime, quickly advancing to Amador’s 20-yard line within five plays. Gookin then threw a fade to the left side of the endzone, and there Bearden went up to make the catch and the touchdown. With 55 seconds left, Sonora led 28-21.

The Wildcats then received the ball to start the second half. Camara rushed for 55 yards to give his team a first and goal from the Buffaloes’ 10-yard line. Three plays later, junior running back C.J. Castleman scored on a fourth down from five yards out. The point after kick missed, but with 8:35 left in the third quarter, the Wildcats led 34-21.

Sonora then forced another Amador punt and advanced the ball to the Buffaloes’ 11-yard line. Gookin fumbled again, and with 4:12 left in the quarter the Buffaloes showed some life. But a delay of game penalty followed by an eight yard sack and an incomplete pass brought up fourth down and yet another Amador punt.

On the following Wildcat drive, junior wide receiver Conner Pullen rushed for a 29-yard touchdown. A successful two point conversion left Sonora up 42-21 with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.

Amador returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 36-yard line, but Bearden stripped the Buffalo quarterback of the ball and returned it for a touchdown. A block in the back penalty took the score off the board, but shortly thereafter junior Wildcat running back Aki Loh scored from three yards out. Sonora led 49-21 with 11:46 left in the game, and Amador was unable to respond by the end.

“We started out kind of slow,” said Coach Bryan Craig after the win. “We made a couple mistakes, but we cleaned it up. We’re young, and we just need to make sure we know what our assignments are. The key was to come out of this game without any injuries.”

Sonora advanced to a record of 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the Mother Lode League. Amador dropped to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in league play. Sonora next travels to play Summerville on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. Amador travels to play Argonaut on the same day at 7 p.m.