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Buffs fight through adversity, earn gritty win over Muskogee

Mar. 26—MUSKOGEE — The Buffaloes battled in more ways than one to earn their win.

McAlester hit the road to Muskogee on Tuesday, where the Buffaloes defeated the Roughers 3-2 in a physical battle.

It was a fast start from the first whistle, with both McAlester and Muskogee fighting for possession of the ball. The Buffaloes would score the first goal of the game three minutes into the first half — with Jaime Carranza shooting the ball to the back of the net. Celebration erupted on the field, giving the early momentum to the Buffaloes.

Cameron Giacomo continuously looked for shots and took aim, but were missed or blocked by Muskogee. There was one hopeful moment when Gavin Sutmiller launched a kick across the field into goal territory — with Carranza attempting to head it in, but missed. Diego Espinoza attempted a goal, but bounced off the top of the goal post.

Brandon McDaniel had himself a fantastic night in the goal, blocking Muskogee's shots left and right, even diving for a few.

After the first penalty kick McDaniel blocked, Muskogee would get down field and launch a goal of their own, tying the score 1-1 with 23 minutes left in the first half. Jaime Fernandez took aim and shot, but missed.

Caleb Judkins was waiting and ready to score his first goal of the game, and did so with a head butt he took from a corner kick from McAlester. This gave the Buffaloes the 2-1 lead going into halftime.

The second half escalated to a physical battle on both ends of the field, with yellow cards and penalty kicks flying left and right — majority of those cards going to McAlester players. Muskogee shot a penalty kick early in the second half, only to be stopped by McDaniel.

Carranza attemped another goal, but was blocked by Muskogee. Espinoza shot two penalty kicks this half — missing the first one, but scoring on the second — giving McAlester a 3-1 lead with 17 minutes left in the game.

After McAlester was given another yellow card, Muskogee shot a penalty kick and scored, cutting the Buffaloes lead by one point. The Roughers kept trying to put pressure on McAlester in the final five minutes of the game, but the Buffaloes handled it until the final buzzer, taking the nail-biting win.

"I am glad that they played hard the entirety of the game, even though things didn't werent going well at times, but they controlled themselves and fought hard, so we will take the win," coach Rashaud Buie said after the game.

Up next for McAlester, the Buffs head to Durant on Friday to face the Lions at 8 p.m.