By KEVIN THOMPSON
JOHNSON CITY — Undefeated Stanton County was ranked second in the state in Class 2A. One-loss Meade was ranked fourth.
After a season-opening loss to Holcomb, the Meade Buffaloes have been on a mission to prove they are still the team to beat in 2A football.
They were state champions two years ago and suffered their only loss last year in the state semifinals.
Three of the four Stanton County losses the past two seasons have come against the Buffaloes.
Would Friday be Stanton County's turn to shine in this recent district rivalry?
Nope. Meade won 28-6 in the opening game of district play.
Not the game Trojan coach Bret Kendrick wanted, obviously, but also not wholly unexpected, either.
"They take advantage. You give them opportunities, and they capitalize," he said.
Trevin Wiens ran straight ahead on the second play of the game for a 75-yard score and Chris Hardaway ran a fourth-and-1 10 yards for the second touchdown and a 14-0 lead before the sun had even set.
Stanton County answered on four plays. Quinn Kendrick hit Angel Molina for 40 yards to get to the Meade 17. On the next play, Kendrick hit Jacob Cron for what would be the Trojan's only score.
They had two shots in the end zone on a nine-play drive to start the second quarter, but both were broken up by good defense.
Meade took advantage. On the eighth play from scrimmage following the turnover on downs, Wiens ran up the middle 56 yards for his second touchdown.
Then Meade scored one more time in the half. Following a Mark Finster 48-yard interception return, Hardaway hit Little for an 8-yard strike with 4 seconds left in the half and a 28-6 lead.
They also won the first-half yardage battle, 276-138.
In the second half, the Buffaloes controlled much of the clock, running the ball on 20 of their 21 plays.
Stanton County started the second half with a sustained 11-play drive that stalled at Meade's 26, and that was as close as the Trojans would get the rest of the game.
Credit Meade's stingy defense, which picked off two passes, recovered a fumble, and had six tackles for loss against what has been a speedy offense.
They held Kendrick and Marques Logan to just 120 combined rushing yards, most of them hard-earned against punishing tackles.
Just like in the previous three losses, it's turnovers and open holes that have come back to haunt his team.
"We always give them gifts. If we quit giving them gifts, I think we're fine," Bret Kendrick said. "Our kids fight hard and play hard. There's no doubt in my mind that we can beat them."
Stanton County (4-1, 0-1) threw in a mix of of "kitchen sink" plays with a lot of gadgets thrown in to try to keep Meade guessing, Kendrick said, but the Buffaloes seemed to have an answer to most of them.
"Coach (Scott) Moshier has plays on us since Noah rode the ark," Kendrick joked. Trying to put wrinkles on those plays didn't seem to help.
Getting scored on is probably not a bad thing for the Trojans midway into the season, either, he added.
"We're a solid team. We're going to work on some things and come back strong," he said.
He even anticipates a rematch in district playoffs.
For Meade (4-1, 1-0) this was a good test following the one-point loss against Holcomb. This is a much more focused team since then, Moshier said.
"That first game, we would love to re-do. We shot ourselves in the foot then," he said.
The "bend don't break" philosophy has driven his team since then, he added, and defense equals wins because of it, as witnessed Friday.
"I didn't know how they (Stanton County) would react being down 28," Moshier said. "We got the reaction we wanted."
Stopping the Trojan's speed duo was a key, he added.
Meade won the yardage game, 413-200, but scored just half the points they were used to. A good game overall, Moshier said.
Meade 14 14 0 0 -- 28
Stanton County 6 0 0 0 -- 6
Scoring by quarters
M--Wiens 75 run (Davis kick) 11:05
M--Hardaway 10 run (Davis kick) 5:13
SC--Kendrick 17 pass to Cron (run failed) 3:50
M--Wiens 56 run (Davis kick) 4:28
M--Hardaway 8 pass to Little (Davis kick) :04
RUSHING--Meade: Wiens 20-233, Little 13-90, Hardaway 13-59; Stanton County: Kendrick 22-80, Logan 11-40.
PASSING--Meade: Hardaway 2-5-0-23; Stanton County: Kendrick 7-12-2-71.
RECEIVING--Meade: Morris 1-15, Little 1-8; Stanton County: Molina 1-40, Cron 1-17.