The Cassville Wildcats started district play this week in what would be a long road trip to face a new opponent in the Nevada Tigers.
The Wildcats came into the contest boasting a 6-0 record and a #3 state ranking. The Tigers came in 2-5, but compete in a Class 4 conference in which they are the only Class 3 team. Cassville would ultimately prevail for a 55-28, but not without a challenge from the Tigers.
Nevada would chose to receive in the first half and would immediately show Cassville they were a team to be reckoned with. Nevada would use a quick pass to one of their faster receivers who would take the ball 60 yards for a touchdown. A two-point conversion failed, and Nevada led 6-0 after only 18 seconds.
Cassville would come back with what they know best, the running game. Brian Elkins would kick off the drive with a 21-yard run, and Tim Orrell would cap it off with a 39-yard quarterback scamper to tie the score. Mathew Angel would come on for an injured Aaron Jamieson and kick the extra point, making it Nevada-6 Cassville-7.
Nevada would again come out passing on their next drive, picking up key yardage with three third down conversions and one fourth down. However, the Wildcat defense would stop them on their second fourth down. Cassville would not be able to produce, and on a fourth and short situation, the Wildcats would end up fumbling the ball.
Nevada's offense would not be able to get it going on their next drive, going three and out. Cassville would take over and get to the middle of a drive when the first quarter would end.
In the second quarter the Wildcats would continue their drive and would come up big with a 19-yard run by Elkins into the end zone, giving the 'Cats a more comfortable 14-6 lead.
Nevada would manage some success on their next drive but not enough, as the Wildcats would force them to punt.
Cassville again would go to Elkins on their next drive, as he would end up running the ball in to put Cassville up 21-6. Cassville's defense would also show its prowess, stopping Nevada in three plays and forcing them to punt once again.
Ryan Rowley would return the punt and set the Wildcats up with good field position. Orrell would go to the air, but find a familiar number, that of his tailback Elkins, who would take the pass and get into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass and a 28-6 lead. The Tigers would once again go three and out and put the ball back in Cassville's hands with 2:01 left in the half.
Cassville would mix it up with their play calling, starting with a 25-yard pass from Orrell to Rowley. The Wildcats would then get themselves into a third and one situation with 28 seconds remaining in the half. Cassville would once again give it to Elkins, who not only picked up the first down but the touchdown as well. The half ended with Cassville up 34-6.
To begin the second half, Cassville would receive. The Wildcats would drive the ball just into Tiger territory where the Tigers would force them into a fourth down. The Wildcats would convert, and then Orrell would throw a strike to Kelby Haynes for a 24-yard reception. A couple of plays later Danny Naugle would score from the 2-yard line. Angel would hit the extra point and put the 'Cats up 41-6.
Seemingly, Nevada looked to be out of the game, but the Tigers offense was set up so they can score a lot of points quickly and they would attempt to do that to Cassville. Nevada looked like they were going to have to punt once again, but a big reception by their best receiver put them on the goal line. With one more play, Nevada scored and the score was 41-12.
On their next possession Cassville would fumble the ball away. Nevada would take over and needed no extra encouragement, as their quarterback would complete a 60-yard touchdown pass. They would convert the two-point conversion to put the score at 20-41 and put themselves within reach of Cassville.
The Wildcats would not allow the last score to go unanswered. Cassville would put together a drive that included a 23-yard pass from Orrell to Michael Baker and two 20-yard rushes by Elkins. His second produced a touchdown to give Cassville the 48-20 lead.
Nevada would convert two third downs on their next drive and end up passing it into the end zone, coming right back and making it 28-48 at the end of the third quarter.
The Wildcats would go to their trick book on their first drive of the fourth. Michael Baker would end up with the ball on a reverse that he took for 51 yards and a touchdown, giving Cassville its final points of the night and a 55-28 win.
Helping Cassville earn the victory offensively was Elkins who rushed the ball 21 times, picking up a total of 193 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Elkins also caught a 28-yard pass for a touchdown.
Orrell's passing game was strong as the senior completed eight of nine passes for 152 yards. Orrell also ran the ball for 65 yards and a touchdown. Michael Baker had four receptions on the night for a total of 61 yards and two rushing attempts for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively the 'Cats were lead by: Jared Bouzek with seven total tackles; Jake Nolan and Dannon Rose with five unassisted tackles a piece; Phillip Cooper with four unassisted and two assisted tackles; Nick Pianalto with five total tackles and two for a loss; Ryan Rowley with four unassisted tackles; and Cory Howard with four unassisted tackles.
This Friday, the Wildcats will play archrival Monett on the road. The Cubs are now 4-4 overall, 3-3 in the conference, and 0-1 in district play.
Game notes: Jamieson's injury could keep him out for the rest of the season. Elkins eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark during the Nevada game and puts him averaging a little over 165 yards a game. Orrell now has over 500 passing yards. MICDS (Mary Institute-Country Day School), which is ranked #2 in Class 3, lost its first district game.