Hollister shuts out Buffalo in second half for elusive third win

HOLLISTER, Mo. — Accomplishments can translate in many different ways, depending on who's doing the talking.

Three wins may not seem like much to a lot of programs, but for Buffalo and Hollister, it represents a long-awaited step. 

The Tigers had not reached that pleateau in a single season since their inaugural varsity campaign in 2010, but they got their third victory of the year on Friday with a 34-20 edging of Buffalo.

"We've taken major steps as a program," quarterback Jackson Bekemeier said. "We've done so many things that we haven't done in years past."

He's right. Hollister had never been above .500 past Week 5. They had never won on homecoming night. They've already surpassed last year's touchdown total. Their new $600,000 turf field shined as it allowed the Tigers to play tonight amidst a downpour.


Third-year head coach Jacob Hamon matched his players' enthusiasm, jumping up and down the sidelines and pumping up the crowd at every opportunity. 

"It's a testament to how hard our kids have worked this year and the changes they're making in their lives and on the field," he said. You can tell these kids want it. It's important to them."

Buffalo (2-3) appeared to want this game more in the first quarter, turning a fumble and an interception into a quick 13-0 lead. Kyle Cooley connected on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Cody Gillete and an 18-yard strike to Austin Starkey. 

Every point in the first quarter came off turnovers as Cooley was intercepted on the next drive. Jackson Bekemeir made up for the damage by busting through arm tackles for a 13-yard keeper, cutting the deficit to 13-6.

"It felt like our kids came out on their heels. I don't know if it was the adversity with the weather or what, but they picked up the pass defense really well. They minized how much of an effect Buffalo could have in the pass game. "

The Tigers fought back to tie it 13-13 and again at 20-20 before halftime, showing a reslience that hasn't always been present. 

"We've learned battle through adversity and fight for four quarters," Bekemeier said. "In recent years, going down 13-0 like that early, we probaly would've just shut down, but we found a way to make a comeback."

The junior tossed the first of two on the night to Derek Morris before the second quarter expired. Despite a trio of turnovers and two blocked punts, the Tigers felt the tide swinging as they hit the locker room.

"Whatever team can grab that momentum, it's absolutely vital," Hamon said. "Our kids, battling back and forth with them, I felt did a great job with that momentum."

The third quarter was a war of attrition for two pass-happy offenses. Aerial breakups ran rampant until Hollister took advantage of a mistake. Josh Neville nabbed the second of three interceptions by the Tigers defense and returned it 42 yards the go-ahead touchdown. 

Up 26-20 to start the fourth quarter, Hollister (3-2) kept the energy up to polish off a shutout in the second half.

"Buffalo is a very different team than what we've faced in the past. The next three or four years is going to be good for them."

Bekemeier completed 15 of 27 passes for 205 yards. He took a beating throughout, but the toughness he showed is one reason why he's enjoying the best statistical season yet. 

"Coach Hamon is always preaching to stay tough and not show that you're hurt because they could target that. I was just battling and doing everything I could for my team," he said.

The Tigers can hit another milestone next week when they travel to their cross-county rivals, Reeds Spring. 

Buffalo still has a shot at reaching three wins for the first time since 2008. They host Springfield Catholic next Friday.

Hollister 34, Buffalo 20

Buffalo 13 7 0 0 — 20
Hollister 6 14 7 7 — 34

First quarter

Buffalo – Cooley 25-yard pass to Gilette 

Buffalo – Cooley 18-yard pass to Starkey 
Hollister – Bekemeier 13-yard run

Second quarter

Hollister – Bekemeier 5-yard pass to Morris
Buffalo – Hosiner 1-yard run
Hollister – Walters 72-yard kickoff return

Third quarter

Hollister – Neville 42-yard interception return
Fourth quarter
Hollister – Bekemeier 5-yard pass to Morris