By RUSTIN WATT
• Leader & Times
LACROSSE — It was a tale of two halves for the Meade Buffaloes Saturday afternoon in Lacrosse. A halftime lead of 18-12 vanished as three second half fumbles led to a Leopard bid to the state title following the 38-24 win over Meade High.
The Buffaloes would strike first on the brisk afternoon with an end around to the Senior Dalton Wiens with just under a minute to play in the first quarter. Lacrosse would soon answer in the passing attack with a third-and-14 skinny post from the Leopard signal-caller Jack Garcia to Andrew Jay.
Two goal line scores for Meade from the captains Jett Little and Morgan Olvera would lead to a 18-6 Buffalo lead with a minute to go in the half before another Wiens touchdown would cut it to 18-12 at the break.
The Leopards first drive of the second half would tie things up on a keeper from Garcia. The Buffaloes would be forced to punt the ensuing possession as the Leopards would make their Senior back, Marshall Jay, the workhorse on the ground for the Leopards. Big gains by Jay would lead to Leopard score on a play-action slant from Garcia to a 6’3’’ Taylor Yohe for a 24-18 Lacrosse lead.
Meade would turn it over on an Olvera fumble before regaining possession on an interception by Little on the Meade nine-yard-line. A screen to the left sideline form Little to Olvera would chew up some yards before Olvera was upended and fumbled as Wiens and the Leopards would recover on the Meade 20-yard-line.
An opportunity was missed by the Buffaloes following the turnover with a goal line stand looming. A third-and-goal run up the middle was stuffed by the Buffaloes and forced the Lacrosse ball-carrier to put it on the turf. Garcia scooped up the loose ball and took it on over the left pylon for a 32-18 Leopard lead with six minutes on the clock.
Meade looked to cut into the lead on the next possession working their way down the field into a first-and-goal from the Leopard nine before a mishandled handoff would let Lacrosse take over. The Leopards were held to a third-and-seven before putting the game out of reach on an 80-yard connection from Garcia to Yohe on the same play-action play the Leopards scored with earlier in the contest.
The Buffaloes would see the end zone just before the end of regulation on a keeper from Ryan Friesen. Lacrosse would kneel it after regaining possession and Meade fell 38-24.
Lacrosse moved to 12-0 on the season and will take on Centralia Wetmore for the state title game which will take place in Hays at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Meade finished the season 10-2 as the 2013 quarterfinalists.