Thursday night's UIL 2A Division I area playoff game at Memorial Stadium was a night of absolutes. Three Rivers couldn't hang on to the ball and Ganado took advantage every time.
Ganado's defense forced five turnovers on the night and the offense turned each one into a touchdown. Three Rivers' first four drives all resulted in turnovers and helped Ganado run away with an eventual 55-0 shutout victory.
The win sends Ganado into the regional quarterfinals for the second straight season.
"It was the most complete game we've played this year, I believe," said Ganado head coach Brent Bennett. "I don't know if you can ever play a complete game, but that might be as close as we get to one."
At a level where the players never leave the field, sophomore quarterback Kyle Bures-Guerrero was running around the entire night. Bures-Guerrero opened the game with a seven yard touchdown run and finished the night with 306 total yards and six touchdowns.
Yet it was the Ganado defense that made the loudest noise to open the game. The defense forced two fumbles within Three Rivers' first four plays of the night and would recover four overall. Senior Larson Workman led the defensive front all night and finished with two fumble recoveries of his own.
Ganado's second fumble recovery of the night was a 30-yard scoop-and-score by senior Noah Thedford that put Ganado up 21-0 with all the momentum on its side.
"It is a team sport, but it feels good to do those big things and just celebrate with your boys," Thedford said. "Being able to block for one of my boys to go make a touchdown is amazing."
Falling behind early seemed to get into the Bulldogs' heads as a high snap resulted in another lost fumble, followed by Thedford intercepting quarterback Caden Soliz on a fourth down play. Both turnovers resulted in touchdowns for Ganado.
"Tonight the ball finally bounced our way," Bennett said. "Anytime you get 21, 28 points on turnovers, you know you're doing a pretty good job and you've got a chance to win that game."
The four fumble recoveries and the interception all came in the first half and helped Ganado jump out to a 48-0 halftime lead.
The second half was all business for Ganado. Despite Three Rivers having its first sustained drive of the night, Ganado massive chunks of the game clock with runs from sophomore Corbin Teague, who finished 18 carries for 97 yards and one touchdowns.
It was Bures-Guerrero's fifth rushing touchdown of the night that put Ganado up 55-0 in the fourth quarter and all but assured a victory.
Yet when Ganado put in its second stringers, the focus shifted to maintaining the shutout. The final play of the game was a goal-line stand that saw Three Rivers' Taylor Stockton denied at the one-yard line to preserve the 55-0 shutout win.
Ganado will play Refugio in the 2A Division I regional quarterfinals at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 27 at Victoria Memorial Stadium.
It is the first playoff meeting between the two teams since Ganado's 7-6 bi-district win over the Bobcats in 2005.
"We've got to be prepared," Bures-Guerrero said. "We've got to come out physical like we did in the first half and if we do that all throughout the game I think we'll be alright."