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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaDrake Schlup makes a catch Oct. 23 during the Pintos’ loss to Southern Boone.

ASHLAND, Mo. — The California Pintos (6-3) fell short Oct. 23 in a tough defensive game against the Southern Boone Eagles (5-3) 21-0.

Neither team was able to score in the first quarter as both defenses would bend but not break, and the quarter ended with the game tied at 0. The Pintos started a drive late in the quarter around their own 30-yard line and, in the second quarter, moved the ball to the Eagles' 35-yard line. A couple of plays later, the Pintos got the ball within the red zone, but on fourth down and 15 yards to go, Calen Kruger's pass was intercepted and the Eagles returned the ball to their own 36-yard line.

Southern Boone drove deep into Pintos' territory, eventually finding themselves on third down with two yards to go on California's 17-yard line, but a snap that went behind the quarterback made it fourth down and 20 yards to go. Despite the disadvantage, the Eagles took a 7-0 lead as a desperate heave into the endzone was caught inbounds near the right sideline of the end zone for a touchdown with 3:22 left in the first half.

In the final minutes of the first half, the Pintos were able to get in the red zone but were not able to score. A final shot towards the end zone on fourth down and 14 yards to go with less than six seconds left was knocked away to force a turnover on downs to end the first half.

The second half continued to be a defensive game. Neither team scored for most of the third quarter, until Southern Boone scored the first points of the second half on fourth down and nine-yards to go near the Pintos' 25-yard line. The Eagles completed a pass that kept their drive going and got them within the five-yard line, then scored to make it 14-0 with less than 2:00 left in the quarter. In the final quarter, Southern Boone pulled away late with a final touchdown with just over 4:00 left in the game to make it 21-0.

Pintos head coach Derek Scroggins said he thought the team did a good job of driving the ball most of the game but just wasn't able to finish drives off.

"That falls with me," Scroggins said. "I've got to do a better job of making sure we get into the end zone. Most of the night tonight, it looked like we were one guy away from being able to break things in the space we wanted to be at. We are going to go back, retool and keep working. The kids did a great job of battling from whistle to whistle and I am proud of their effort."

Scroggins said that during their drives that got close to the end zone, the struggles were not so much due to Southern Boone making adjustments, but the Pintos ended up shooting themselves in the foot.

"Typically, we would have a mental error and when that would happen, we ended up shooting ourselves in the foot and putting ourselves in a bad situation where we had to overcome a tackle for a loss in order to try to get something done," Scroggins said. "At that point, we put ourselves in a passing situation and it made it tougher for us."

Scroggins said the team played hard but still has to fine tune some things ahead of it's next test at the district tournament.

"Our kids have shown over and over that we are very much capable of being a great football team," Scroggins said. "It is just fine tuning things and Southern Boone we felt was the second best team in conference coming into this. I felt like we battled pretty well. Southern Boone lost by 21 points to Blair Oaks last week and they have been looking good at the end of the season. So I felt like we did a good job and the kids played their rear end off."

The Pintos' next game is at 7 p.m at home against Boonville in the first round of Class 3 District 4 tournament. Boonville is coming off of a 30-14 win over Hallsville. The last time the Pintos played Boonville on Sept. 25, California won 21-14.

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