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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Evan HolmesThe Pintos charge out of the locker room, ready for the opening kickoff against Boonville.

After a close call win against School of the Osage last week, California returned home to take on a familiar foe — the Boonville High School Pirates.

Both teams entered the night with a record of 3-1, and many anticipated that this matchup would come down to who could make the big plays when it counted. That turned out not to be the case, as the Pintos fell to the Pirates 32-8, dropping to 3-2 at the halfway point of the season.

The Pintos got themselves into trouble early when the Pirates blocked California's first punt attempt. The play later led to a one-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal, leaving the Pirates with a quick 8-0 lead after successfully converting a two-point conversion. California quickly answered, marching down the field on their next possession and leveling the game after a four-yard rushing touchdown from Tyler Patterson and a two-point conversion of their own.

The Pirates retook the lead just before the end of the first quarter, and both teams fought to a standstill for the rest of the first half. Boonville went into the locker room with a 16-8 lead.

Throughout the second half, the Pintos hurt themselves with missed opportunities. The Pintos found themselves in Boonville territory fives times in the second half, but came up empty every time. Pintos quarterback Calen Kruger only threw for 54 yards on three of his 12 passing attempts. One of Kruger's interceptions resulted in a third quarter touchdown from Boonville star senior Dawan Lomax.

The Pintos looked to their running game for most of the night and tried to pound where the Pirates' defense had struggled. The Pirates were ready, however, and forced the Pintos into five possessions that ended in a turnover on downs. California finished the game converting only four of 14 third down attempts, and went one for six on fourth down.

While the Pintos' offense sputtered, the Pirates kicked into high gear and sealed California's fate with another touchdown from Lomax in the closing minutes. When the final seconds of the game ticked away, the Pintos were defeated 32-8.

"I think we just made some crucial mistakes at times and it cost us," said Pintos head coach Seth Womack. "They didn't beat us. They didn't outsmart us. They didn't outplay us. We gave them two scores. You've got to make them work for all of them."

Womack also said his team's inefficiency on third and fourth downs cost the Pintos dearly.

"When it's fourth and short or third and short, and when we can't get first downs, we don't deserve to win the game. We've got to figure that out," Womack said.

The Pintos have had a couple of very steep hills to climb during the last couple of weeks. With the second half of the season upon them, Womack and his team will need to go back to the drawing board and get back to their winning ways.

California will look to get back on track Friday, Oct. 1, for Homecoming, as the Versailles High School Tigers pay them a visit.

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