At times the Mexico Bulldogs football team was its own worst enemy Friday night, turning the ball over three times in a 12-6 home loss to Boonville in a North Central Missouri Conference game.
The loss dropped Mexico to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the NCMC while Boonville moved to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
The Bulldogs outgained the Pirates 225-214 in total offense and continued to have success running the ball, gaining 214 yards on the ground but couldn't always sustain their drives. Penalties at inopportune times and three turnovers that came on two interceptions and a fumble were also a problem for the Bulldogs.
"We hurt ourselves the entire game in key situations. Any time you turn the ball over three times you are going to lose," said Mexico head coach Ty Harrison.
Despite good field position Mexico came up empty on their first two drives of the game but the Bulldogs defense was able to force Boonville to 3-and-outs on their first two possessions.
A 20-yard run by Jamel Taylor started off Mexico's third possession of the game and they continued to move the ball with runs from Taylor and quarterback Tyler Bracht. The Bulldogs picked up first downs on a run by Bracht and a pass from Bracht to Cole Jaramillo before Taylor took off on a 39-yard run, hopping through a hole in the line and breaking a couple of tackles before getting into the end zone for a touchdown.
The PAT attempt by Cole Jaramillo hit the uprights and the Bulldogs led 6-0 with 34.5 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Taylor, who scored his fourth touchdown of the season, had 20 carries for 145 yards in the game.
Early in the second quarter Boonville ran off eight plays before a short run by Austin Henderson brought up 4th-and-1. The Bulldogs defense held on the next play but a facemask penalty on Mexico gave the Pirates a first down and moved the ball to the 15-yard line. Two plays later Boonville quarterback Jacob Francis ran into the end zone for touchdown but the kick failed tying the game at 6-6.
"That play was huge because we had them stopped and it would have been our ball. Games are decided on plays like that," Harrison said.
In the final two minutes of the half, Boonville threatened to score again after a 14-yard punt that went out of bounds at the 44 and gave them a short field to work with. The Pirates picked up a first down on a Francis pass before penalties for intentional grounding and a false start pushed them back and set up a 3rd-and-30 situation.
On the next play Francis carried the ball and broke free pulling along a pile of Bulldogs at the end to work his way back to the 34-yard line and bring up a 4th-and-11 with 53.8 seconds to go. With one try left, Francis found a man wide open in the end zone but the player juggled the ball and couldn't bring it in, stopping the Pirates scoring drive and ending the half shortly after with a 6-all tie.
Page 2 of 2 - Boonville ate up some clock to start the second half, going 13 plays in just over 6 minutes that took them inside the 5-yard line before Mexico junior Chance Harper got a big stop on 4th and goal, shutting them out of the end zone.
A Mexico fumble just 4 plays later gave Boonville the ball on the 32-yard line and another short field to work with. The Pirates put together an 8-play scoring drive and took a 12-6 lead when Henderson drove his way into the end zone for a touchdown with 17.1 seconds left in the third quarter.
Boonville went for the two-point conversion and failed on an incomplete pass but a pass interference call gave them a second try. The Bulldogs stopped the run on the second attempt and the score stayed at 12-6.
Mexico had a chance to score in the fourth quarter when Jaramillo broke up a Boonville pass to bring up 4th-and-3 and Karsten Ekern sacked Francis and allowed Mexico to take over on downs with 5:51 to go in the game. Mexico went 10 plays and picked up two first downs but could not make it to the end zone.
"The last few drives were similar to how we played most of the game," Harrison said. "We moved the ball but did not make plays at crucial times that could have sustained our drive."
The Bulldogs have been relatively healthy this season but were showing signs of fatigue and minor injuries by the end of the game. Taylor came out twice, once in the third quarter with a injury to his leg and once in the fourth quarter with one to his arm but neither was serious and he will return next week.
"I just think we were banged up and a couple of players were sick. Matt Beauchamp had the flu and a fever that limited his play and Brandon Cloven was vomiting on the field," Harrison said. "Every team has to adjust to the wear and tear of the season. We can't use it as an excuse."
The Bulldogs were also without senior lineman Matt Pursley who had to sit out the game with several stitches in his hand from an injury suffered last week during the Hannibal game.
Mexico will be on the road next week to take on district opponent Warrenton.
STATS LEADERS: PASSING: Bracht 1-9, 2 INT for 11 yards; RUSHING: Taylor 20-145, 1 TD, Bracht 15-47, D'Milo Nunnelly 8-26. RECEIVING: Cole Jaramillo 1-11. DEFENSE: Karsten Ekern 15 tackles, Payton Turner 11 tackles, Bracht 10 tackles, Austin Logerman 8 tackles, Laine Chedwick and John Lummis 7 tackles each.