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Defense keeps Buffs unbeaten

Melrose senior Caleb Dodd turns the corner as he heads upfield during the first half of its game against Logan on Friday in Melrose. Melrose defeated Logan 46-22. (Staff photo by Eric Kluth)

MELROSE — Excuse Melrose if its offense wasn’t running at peak efficiency Friday night against Logan.

A thunderstorm that delayed the start of the game for an hour left the field wet and the ball slippery, which could account for nine Melrose fumbles.

Plus, the top-ranked Buffaloes were missing star junior running back Carlos Ruiz and senior quarterback James Walker, who sat the game out for disciplinary reasons.

So it was the Buffalo defense that took the game by the horns, especially in the fourth quarter, holding Logan to two first downs and 151 yards in a 46-22 victory in the District 3 six-man opener for both teams at Melrose High School.

"They did a great job, they stepped up,” Melrose coach Dickie Roybal said. “It's just the character that these guys showed tonight."

With the game tied at 22 going into the fourth quarter before Coy Speer scored on a 5-yard pass from Jeremy Weese to put Melrose (5-0) in the lead for good. Speer barreled into the end zone despite a contingent of Logan defenders at the goal line.

On the ensuing possession, Longhorns coach Billy Burns gambled on fourth down from the Logan 23. The move backfired when Melrose juniors Trey Roberts and James Tatum tackled Logan quarterback Drew Perez for a 14-yard loss.

Three plays later, Caleb Dodd busted a few tackles and scored from the 4 to give Melrose a 38-22 lead.

Melrose added a 15-yard pass from Weese to freshman Lonnie Clark after the defense held Logan on downs again.

Logan gained four yards and had 10 incomplete passes on 12 plays in the fourth quarter.

"We didn't stop calling pass plays because the ball is wet, we just ran our normal stuff," Burns said.

Logan (3-1) jumped out to a 14-0 lead early on a 62-yard Wesley James run and a 75-yard J.D. Estrada run.

Meanwhile, penalties slowed Melrose’s offense.

The Buffaloes had three penalties that negated touchdowns. Two of those drives ended with Melrose failing to convert on fourth down.

Without Ruiz and Walker, it took Melrose a while to find an offense that worked.

The Buffaloes eventually found their offensive groove by spreading out the offense and handing the ball to Cedar Rush.

"We knew if he broke away, they couldn't catch him," Roybal said.

The junior running back dodged and outran Logan for 144 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns.