After a troubling start, Meade High School’s fairy tale finished with a happily-ever-after.

After a troubling start, Meade High School’s fairy tale finished with a happily-ever-after.

Kellan Hernandez rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and the Buffaloes overcame an early deficit to grind out a 20-14 win over St. Mary’s Colgan in the Class 2-1A state title game Saturday in Hays.

With the win, Meade captured its third state title. With the loss, St. Mary’s Colgan suffered its only defeat of the season.

“It’s going to be disappointing,” Panthers head coach Chuck Smith said. “But I’m real proud of them.”

He added, “They worked hard all year.”

Early on, it was St. Mary’s Colgan that appeared to be on a fast track to a title win.

The Panthers took a 7-0 lead at the 10-minute, 6-second mark in the first quarter when Winston Slavens recovered a blocked punt in the end zone.

From there, however, Meade controlled the game’s pace, using lengthy, sustained drives to carve out at 21-7 advantage.

“I knew we would overcome it,” Meade running back Jaden Friesen said of the blocked punt. “I knew we were OK.”

The Buffaloes devoured the clock on offense, scoring on drives of 6:23, 6:06 and 10:34.

Meade head coach Scott Moshier said he knew his players would bounce back from the early mistake.
“We didn’t let it bother us,” Moshier said. “Our kids responded well.”

The Buffaloes stayed clutch through the game’s final moments.

Following a St. Mary’s Colgan touchdown with 1:52 remaining in the fourth quarter, Meade’s Adrian Pfanenstiel recovered the Panthers’ onside kick attempt.

On third-and-4 with 1:06 left, Hernandez pulled the Panthers offside with hard snap count, giving the Buffaloes a first down. St. Mary’s Colgan was out of timeouts, and Meade players and coaches began celebrating on the sideline as Hernandez kneeled out the clock.

“Our kids stepped up and made plays against a very good team,” Moshier said.

Meade (12-1) ran the ball 72 times for 280 yards. The Buffaloes converted on eight of 17 third-down attempts and five of six fourth-down attempts. They held the ball for 36:35, while St. Mary’s Colgan held the ball for just over 11 minutes.

Friesen ran 23 times for 86 yards, while Trevin Wiens totaled 48 yards on 15 carries for Meade.

The Buffaloes ran 76 plays on offense. The Panthers, who converted just one of six third-down tries, ran 32.

St. Mary’s Colgan (12-1) fumbled four times in the game, losing one.

Zachary Smith carried the ball nine times for 41 yards. Christian Smith added 35 yards on eight carries.

St. Mary’s Colgan quarterback Andy Farmer connected on seven of 12 pass attempts for 99 yards. His 46-yard strike to Jordan Smith in the first quarter was the game’s longest play from scrimmage. Jordan Smith fumbled on the play, which was recovered by Meade’s Hernandez.

The Buffaloes took an 8-7 lead with 3:43 left in the first quarter on a 17-yard run by Friesen and successful two-point attempt.

Jordan Smith fumbled the ball on the Meade 17-yard line on the Panthers ensuing drive, turning the ball over to Meade.

A 1-yard scoring run by Hernandez with 13 seconds remaining in the first half helped Meade to a 14-7 lead.
The two-point try was no good.

After a scoreless third quarter, Hernandez’s 8-yard touchdown run capped off a 20-play, 76-yard drive for Buffaloes.

On its next drive, St. Mary’s Colgan drove down to the Meade 1-yard line.

The Buffaloes stopped the Panthers for no gain on three consecutive runs. On fourth down, just inches away from a score, Christian Smith fumbled the ball into the end zone, but it was recovered by Kelley Thompson for a touchdown.