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story.lead_photo.caption Tagen Higgins makes a tackle for California during the Pintos 48-6 loss to Mexico on Sept. 6, 2019. Photo by Kevin Labotka / California Democrat.

MEXICO, Mo. — The California Pintos football team lost to the Mexico Bulldogs 48-6 in the Pintos' first road game of the season.

For the second week in a row, the Pintos entered halftime still in the game as they trailed the Bulldogs 24-6 after the second quarter. However, Mexico would pull away as they outscored the Pintos 24-0 in the second half en route to a comfortable win.

Mexico would get on the board first as they scored the first touchdown to take a 7-0 lead with 7:32 left in the first quarter. The score would remain the same until the second quarter, where Mexico was nearing the end zone again with just under 10 minutes to go before halftime. California's defense would toughen up and force the Bulldogs to make a 27-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with 9:04 left in the first half.

On the ensuing kickoff, Drake Schlup would have a big return for California as he took the ball to right around mid-field. The Pintos would capitalize on the good field position as Calen Kruger would get the team on the board with a 30-yard touchdown run near Mexico's sideline to make it a 10-6 game. California would then hit the extra point, but a penalty caused them to have to try again. The second attempt failed, so the score remained 10-6 with 7:50 left before halftime.

On the Bulldogs' next possession, the Pintos defense once again played some tough football as they forced a three-and-out. It looked like California had captured momentum, but the Pintos would turn the ball over on downs after they failed to convert a fourth-down play around their side of the 50-yard line. On Mexico's next possession, the Bulldogs faced a fourth and short, and they were able to keep their drive going thanks to some big runs. Mexico would get to the Pintos' three-yard line and score on a short touchdown run to make it 17-6 with 59 seconds left in the half.

California would only make it to around their own 40-yard line before halftime; Bryant Davis' pass was intercepted at the California 43-yard line with 30 seconds left on the clock. Mexico would then race down the field and score once more to make it 24-6 with four seconds to play before halftime.

The second half did not start in the best way for California, as Mexico recovered a fumble on the second half's opening kickoff inside California's 40-yard line. Mexico would score shortly after on a 32-yard touchdown pass to make it a 31-6 game.

Head coach Derek Scroggins said the team made some mistakes.

"Really it was a couple of bad mistakes where we shot ourselves in the foot, right before half we threw a bad ball, (Mexico) picks it off and they are able to go down and score on the next drive," Scroggins said. "That was our only offensive turnover so we cleaned that up a little bit. That was tough because that ended up giving them a multiple touchdown lead and in the second half, we come out and fumble a kickoff return, and they are able to go down and score. Those things are hard for our boys right now, and that is something that we definitely (have) to work on."

The Pintos' offense would struggle in the second half, and Mexico would continue to find success on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs scored another touchdown on a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 38-6 with 8:03 left in the third quarter. Mexico would then add one more touchdown on a 6-yard run to make it a 45-6 game with 1:30 left in the quarter. The Bulldogs tacked on a field goal for good measure with 7:50 left in the fourth quarter. In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, California made it into Mexico's red zone but could not score. Mexico took a couple of knees to end the game.

After two tough losses to start the season, Scroggins said there were several areas where the team went in the right direction after the game against Mexico.

"It is one of those things where I feel like our kids are learning and going hard. We are finding out who's got the physical and mental toughness for us," Scroggins said. "So we've got to overcome that adversity and keep grinding."

California's next game will be at the Osage (1-1) Indians at 7 p.m. Sept. 13. The Indians are coming off of a 17-7 loss to Moberly.

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