MELROSE — The Melrose Buffaloes are four periods from perfection.
Clint Barnard ran for 115 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another in a 54-14 win over Floyd in Friday night’s 8-man semifinals.
The only obstacle left in Melrose’s bid for its first 8-man title is Tatum, a 42-38 winner over Gateway on Friday. The Buffaloes, who defeated the Coyotes 40-0 Sept. 12, host the championship next Saturday at 1 p.m.
Floyd (9-3) jumped out to a 6-0 lead as quarterback Chay Chenault found brother Chet Chenault on a 40-yard slant route, but the Buffaloes tied it two possessions later on a Haden Huber 3-yard run and took the lead for good a minute later on Lane Draper’s 46-yard interception return.
By the time the Broncos scored again, a 17-yard pass between the Chenaults to close out the first half, Melrose (11-0) had posted 38 unanswered between Barnard’s power running and a few occasional throws to keep the Broncos honest.
Melrose spent the second half milking the clock, and closed out the scoring as Call Barnard’s 8-yard scoring run ended a 12-play drive.
Despite the blowout, it was a different Floyd team from the one that couldn’t catch any breaks in a 60-0 drubbing two weeks prior.
“We knew they were going to come out and hit us hard,” said Clint Barnard, his throwing hand full of cuts from a night of contact. “We had the focus and we didn’t let it get to us when they went up 6-0. We kept on trucking.”
Floyd coach Rafael Roybal said a few empty possessions early hurt, but they couldn’t do much to stop the Buffaloes when they got on a roll.
“We can’t stop them (on offense), and they bring everybody on defense, and it just makes them really hard to block,” Roybal said. “They deserve to win, let’s put it that way.”
But the Buffaloes know they still have work to do.
“We’ve got one more game, another week of practice,” Clint Barnard said. “Other than Gateway, (Tatum) was the team, I think, that played us the hardest. They will be ready for us.”