FALLS CITY -- Shiner and Falls City turned a battle for first place in District 30-A into a fierce defensive struggle, which is what most expected.
Yet, no one could have foreseen the sustained level of smash-mouth football displayed Friday at Beaver Stadium.
Falls City (9-0, 4-0 in 30-A) dug in early and held on for a 7-0 victory over Shiner (8-1, 3-1). The estimated crowd of 5,000 watched as the Comanches were shut out for the first time in 75 games.
The offenses were forced to punt 12 times while combining for 294 yards and 14 first downs.
"We've been through this before with them," Shiner coach Steven Cerny said. "Usually in the second half they wear down a little bit and we start having a lot of success. But it just didn't happen tonight."
History failed to repeat because Falls City didn't allow it to.
Beavers coach Mark Kirchhoff forced his team to get tougher and stronger in the offseason as a result of last season's loss to the Comanches.
"We want to be flat back and come off the ball like Shiner," Kirchhoff said. "That's what you have to do if you're going to survive in this district because it's going to go through them every year."
Falls City made it past a train wreck of a game this year thanks to its defense.
"There weren't any secrets," Kirchhoff said. "They knew what we were going to do and we certainly knew what they were going to do. It was just execution. We just got some big plays on penetrations down there at the goal line and downed them out a couple of times."
Shiner was held to 121 yards rushing on 42 carries. The Comanches had 30 attempts that went for 3 yards or fewer and 69 yards of negative yardage.
Falls City also recovered three of six fumbles while constantly disrupting Shiner's veer attack.
"Give them credit," Cerny said. "They forced some of the fumbles. They got after it on defense. They didn't let up."
Falls City scored the game's only touchdown late in the second quarter on a 42-yard drive that was set up by its defense.
"Offensively, I thought it was key in the first half when we got that one drive," Kirchhoff said. "Even though we stalled out, we got the field position back. When you have two teams of this caliber, a lot of times it just comes down to field position."
The Beavers set up the game-winning touchdown by stuffing the Comanches for 27 yards in lost yardage on the previous drive. After opening that drive on the 36-yard line, Shiner had 15 penalty yards and lost 14 more on a rushing attempt.
Falls City received the ensuing punt at the 42-yard line and immediately picked up 5 yards on an offsides penalty. Beavers running back Joe Theis gained 21 yards on the drive, including an 8-yard run for the touchdown.
Shiner had a chance to tie the game, but its final drive ended on a penalty. Quarterback Garet Pustka fired a pass that Casey Coleman caught at Falls City's 24-yard line. Coleman pitched the ball to Steven Evans, but the officials ruled it was an illegal forward pass.