AUGUSTA – At first glance, Augusta’s 41-21 loss Friday night to Buhler seemed lopsided.
But that would be ignoring how the Orioles (1-4) stood toe-to-toe with the Crusaders after finding themselves in an early 21-0 hole.
"They’re a physical team," Augusta coach Jason Filbeck said. "We got punched in the mouth."
It could also be said that Buhler junior running back Sam Elliott handled most of the punching, squirting through holes in rushing 26 times for 366 yards and six touchdowns.
"That’s ridiculous," Filbeck said. "We knew he was a good back. The whole game plan is to make sure we tackle the running back. We just didn’t get off blocks, and when we did, we didn’t make the tackle."
"That’s been our Achilles heel all year. We haven’t finished tackles, and on offense we haven’t finished blocks. We block for just long enough, then kids slide off us and go hit our backs."
Filbeck said it was encouraging that his team kept battling despite the three-touchdown hole.
"This year, and for a lot of my years here, we are notorious for not starting games well," he said. "It’s like we have to get down, then we start to play.
"When kickoff starts, we can’t be half-asleep."
As good as Elliott was Friday night, Filbeck said Orioles senior Ryan Andrews shouldn’t be overlooked.
"He’s good, too," Filbeck said. "I’ll take my running back over just about anybody."
Andrews, dogged all week by injuries, showed no sign of weakness as he carried 22 times for 118 yards and Augusta’s final touchdown on a 62-yard sprint.
"He hasn’t been healthy since Week One," Filbeck said. "He’s just playing anyway. We’ve had the injury bug – the only thing we haven’t had is a COVID problem luckily, knock on wood."
With injuries to Hunter Anderson and Duke Lichlyter as well, the Orioles had a good effort from senior Ely Wilcox, who gained 74 yards in eight carries and had a rushing and a receiving touchdown.
"Ely hadn’t played as much at that position, so we put him in there to get a little bit more, and he showed up big," Filbeck said.
After a 35-20 loss at Goddard to open the season, Buhler has been on a hot streak, defeating Winfield (21-9) and El Dorado (36-14).
Elliott one-upped his performance last week at El Dorado, when he rushed for 227 yards and three scores.
"He had a great night, and our line did a great job of getting off the ball," Buhler coach Steve Warner said.
Warner said the early 21-point burst set the tone.
"I think it did," he said. "Then, our defense relaxed a little bit. Instead of being intense the entire game, they were lax, and that allowed (Augusta) to crawl back into the game.
"Obviously, that’s something we have to get fixed."
Augusta will remain at home next Friday, taking on Winfield.
"We’ve just got to find a way to get them beat," Filbeck said.
Buhler will return home to face archrival McPherson in what should be an all-out war.
Buhler 21;7;13;0 – 41
Augusta 0;14;7;0 – 21
B – Elliott 1 run (Wisecarver kick)
B – Elliott 37 run (Wisecarver kick)
B – Elliott 7 run (Wisecarver kick)
A – Wilcox 13 run (Kohls kick)
B – Elliott 23 run (Wisecarver kick)
A – Wilcox 18 pass from Hand (Kohls kick)
B – Elliott 7 run (kick failed)
B – Elliott 19 run (Wisecarver kick)
A – Andrews 62 run (Kohls kick)
RUSHING – Buhler: Elliott 26-366, Patton 4-14, B. Neill 2-19, Rolland 5-6, J. Neill 1-14, Caffey 2-11. Augusta: Andrews 22-118, Wilcox 8-74, Hand 6-17, McConathy 4-8, Williams 1-2.
PASSING – Buhler: B. Neill 6-9-1-82. Augusta: Hand 4-6-0-41.
RECEIVING – Buhler: Henderson 2-33, Van Bruggen 1-19, Lipford 1-16, Ruda 1-14, Rolland 1-0. Augusta: Wilcox 1-18.