Breckenridge Texan

Buckaroos start out 2023 season with loss to Jacksboro

Buckaroos start out 2023 season with loss to Jacksboro
August 27
10:04 2023

By Brant Thurmond/Breckenridge Texan

With high anticipation and excitement in the air, the Breckenridge Buckaroos kicked off the 2023 football season Friday evening in Jacksboro as they took on the Jacksboro Tigers.

Fans and supporters braved the Texas heat with a temperature of about 104 degrees at game time, looking for a great matchup with the Tigers, who were preseason favorites to compete for a district championship in District 2-3A Division II.

Breckenridge Head Coach Casey Pearce talks to the Buckaroos after Friday night’s loss to the Jacksboro Tigers. Click here to see more photos from the game. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Despite the Buckaroos having a one-point (35-34) lead at the nine-minute mark of the fourth quarter, it was ultimately the Tigers who came away with a 57-35 win.

With several new faces in new positions and several young players with not much experience at the varsity level, Buckaroo Head Coach Casey Pearce attributed a lot of the team’s issues to just that.

“A lot of the mistakes we made were a result of not playing full games as a varsity football player,” Pearce said. “Those are things that get corrected, and our veterans got to be able to lead that. It’s part of it and part of growing up, is we got to grow this football team. We will be fine. We got to find a way to make corrections and not look like a JV football team like we did at times tonight.”

Pearce noted some sparks within the team at times in the opener but also noted the importance of consistency within the offense and defense.

“There are sparks there. But there’s no consistency and no ability to carry a drive or get a stop, and (we had some) fatigue,” Pearce said. “We got to get that fixed. “Playing guys both ways, that’s part of it. We got to find ways to make plays.”

After trading punts on both teams’ opening possessions, the Tigers got on the board first with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Lando Belcher to Kaleem Howard. The PAT was good, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 8:13 remaining in the first quarter.

Buckaroo running back Sawyer Wimberley evades the Jacksboro Tigers. Wimberley was the leading rusher with 235 yards on 29 carries with one touchdown. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The Buckaroos answered back with a five-play 59-yard drive that ended with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Cam Escalon to Jaime Cruz. The PAT was no good, making the score 7-6 with 5:40 remaining in the first quarter.

The Buckaroo defense came away with a fourth down stop, and the offense quickly turned that into six points with a three-play 75-yard drive that ended with a 74-yard touchdown pass from Escalon to Alexis Franco. The two-point conversion was no good, but the Bucks led 12-7 with 2:22 left in the first quarter.

Another forced punt by the Buckaroo defense led to a six-play drive that stretched 66 yards and ended with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Escalon to Alejandro Franco on fourth down. Sawyer Wimberley connected on the PAT, giving the Bucks a 19-7 lead with 10:38 left in the second quarter.

The Tigers were once again forced to punt after just three plays, and the Bucks needed just three plays to cash in as Wimberley scored on an 82-yard touchdown run. Wimberley connected on the PAT once again, giving the Bucks a 26-7 lead with 8:09 to play in the second quarter.

Jacksboro needed just two plays to go 78 yards and ended the ensuing drive with a 71-yard touchdown pass from Belcher to Luke Sams. The Tigers’ PAT by Garrett Hubble was good, but the Bucks still led 26-14 with 7:04 left in the second quarter.

The Bucks were forced to punt on the ensuing drive, and two plays into the Tigers’ next drive, Belcher connected with Howard for a 71-yard touchdown pass. Hubble connected on the PAT, making the score 26-21 with 4:29 remaining in the first half.

The Buckaroos put together a 54-yard drive on their next possession but came away empty as a 23-yard field goal attempt was no good.

The Tigers answered with a seven-play 80-yard drive that was capped off with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Belcher to Howard. The PAT was blocked, giving the Tigers a 27-26 lead with 57 seconds left in the first half.

Braye Cantrell takes down a Jacksboro ball carrier in Friday night’s game in Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/ Breckenridge Texan)

The Bucks’ next possession ended with an interception that was returned for a 30-yard touchdown by Jacksboro’s Eric Pizana. The PAT by Hubble was good, giving the Tigers a 34-26 lead with second seconds left in the half.

The Buckaroos’ opening drive of the second half was on track to be a promising drive as the Bucks drove the ball 63 yards in eight plays before a fumble on the Jacksboro two-yard line ended the drive.

Buckaroos Jaxon Escalon and Bryson Herring teamed up to sack Belcher in the endzone on the Tigers’ first play of the ensuing drive for a safety. That cut the Jacksboro lead to just six points (34-28) with 8:42 remaining in the third quarter.

Both teams were held scoreless in the final 8:42 of the quarter with neither team gaining much offensive ground and trading punts.

With under a minute remaining in the third quarter, Escalon intercepted a Belcher pass.

On the following Buckaroo possession, Escalon connected with Braye Cantrell for a 12-yard touchdown pass capping off a six-play 89-yard drive.  Wimberley’s successful PAT gave the Bucks a 35-34 lead at the 9:40 mark of the fourth quarter.

The momentum and lead were short lived for the Bucks as Sams broke free on the first play of the Tigers’ next drive for a 45-yard touchdown run. Belcher connected with Cannon Valenzuela for the two-point conversion to give the Tigers a 42-35 lead with 9:28 left in the fourth quarter.

A punt was the result of the Bucks next drive, and Jacksboro was able to quickly turn it into points in just two plays as Belcher connected with Valenzuela for a 36-yard touchdown pass. The Tigers would go for two and were successful as Luis Balderrama ran into the endzone for the conversion. That gave the Tigers a 50-35 lead with 6:48 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Needing an answer to cut into the deficit, the Bucks moved the ball 37 yards in seven plays to the Jacksboro 28-yard line, but an interception would put an end to the drive.

Buckaroo quarterback Cam Escalon hands off the ball to Sawyer Wimberley. Escalon had four touchdowns in the game against Jacksboro. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/ Breckenridge Texan)

Five plays later, the Tigers scored the game’s final points as Hunter Moffit scored on a 13-yard touchdown run. Hubble connected on the PAT, giving the Tigers a 57-35 lead with 2:05 left in the game.

The Bucks finished the game with 279 yards passing and 255 yards rushing for a total of 534 yards.

Wimberley was the leading rusher with 235 yards on 29 carries with one touchdown.

Escalon completed 21 of 34 passing attempts for 279 yards and had four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Alexis Franco and Herring were the leading receivers with Franco having three receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown and Herring having five receptions for 69 yards and one touchdown.

The Bucks will host the Childress Bobcats at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, at Buckaroo Stadium. The Bobcats defeated Abernathy 14-7 on Aug. 25 and enter the game at 1-0.

District 3-3A Opponents Results

(District opponents in bold)

Vernon (1-0) 40
WF City View (0-1) 20

Holliday (1-0) 18
Iowa Park (0-1) 7

Clyde (1-0) 40
Cisco (0-1) 28

Jim Ned (1-0) 34
Hawley (0-1) 12

Graham (1-0) 56
Bowie (0-1) 14

Sept. 1 Matchups
  • Iowa Park at Benbrook (Played at Farrington Field)
  • Clyde at Eastland
  • Breckenridge vs. Childress
  • Bridgeport at Bowie
  • Vernon at Gainesville
  • Jim Ned at Holliday

Click here to see the Breckenridge Texan’s Photo Gallery from the game in Jacksboro.

Breckenridge High School Head Coach Casey Pearce shakes hands with Jacksboro High School Head Coach Casey Hubble after the game in Jacksboro. Hubble coached in Breckenridge from 2014 to the spring of 2020. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


Cutline, top photo: Buckaroos Jaxon Escalon and Bryson Herring team up to sack Jacksboro’s Lando Belcher for a safety in the third quarter. Click here to see more photos from the game. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)



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