Wildcats win season opener

Saturday, September 8, 2007

There comes a point in time in a program where fans just start to expect that their team will win. The Cassville Wildcats may not have reached that point yet, but after beating Branson 31-19 last Friday night, they are sure getting close.

The Wildcats were cheered on by a boisterous Cassville crowd that was often louder than the home team.

Both Cassville and Branson found success in the first half, alternating each other's scoring and leaving a 14-13 Cassville lead at the end. In the second half the tide went a different way. The Wildcats used some pivotal plays to head home with a 31-19 win.

The Pirates began the second half at their own four-yard line, but after a couple of successful plays, the Pirates scored on a 62-yard pass to regain the lead 19-14.

The Pirates then forced Cassville to punt and seemed to have the momentum as they started yet another successful drive.

However, on a blitzing play the Pirates attempted a screen pass. The ball seemed to be deflected by one of the Wildcat defenders, but Branson's receiver still ended up with it, yet no sooner than the ball had hit his hands then it came popping right back out and this time to a Cassville defender.

The Wildcats used that momentum and good execution to complete a drive finished off by a three-yard touchdown run by Danny Naugle.

The Wildcats' JR Woodruff then blocked a punt that led to another Cassville touchdown with Laith Hayward scoring from seven yards out.

From there the Wildcats used their running game and stiff defense to finish off their hosts, winning 31-19.

Branson opened the scoring in the game on the first drive. The Pirates used a mis-direction running play, which allowed the Pirates' half-back to rush for 54 yards to set up Branson's first touchdown.

The Wildcats answered that drive and scored on a two-yard run by Lane Stubblefield.

In the second quarter, the Pirates scored again. Scrambling away from a blitz on a third-and-10 situation, Branson's quarterback Caleb Roberts threw up a wobbly pass to receiver Chase Westfall who caught it and took it 80 yards to put the Pirates back in front 13-7.

The Wildcats again answered, scoring this time on a one-yard run by Danny Naugle.

Cassville's turnaround came in the second half.

"In the second half we wore them down, because we weren't playing guys both ways (offense and defense)," said Cassville Head Coach David Large.

The Wildcats outscored Branson 14-6 in the third quarter to take a comfortable lead.

The Wildcats scored one more time. This time off of the foot of Aaron Jamieson who hit a 31-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

"Jamieson did a good job," said Large.

The junior not only got the field goal but was four-for-four on extra point attempts and averaged 50 yards per kick-off.

"I thought one of the big differences (for the game) was on special teams," said Large. The Wildcats not only did a good job in the kicking game, but also on the return. Senior Ryan Rowley had two good returns with a 28-yard kick return and a 40-yard punt return.

The Wildcats gained 381 yards of total offense while limiting Branson to just 266.

Cassville was led by its rushing attack where the 'Cats have developed a stable of backs.

Junior Jon Haney had a big night for the Wildcats, tallying 149 yards. Unfortunately Haney was injured late in the fourth quarter and is likely out for awhile.

Naugle also did well, rushing for 38 yards and two of Cassville's touchdowns. Stubblefield tallied 23 yards and a score for the squad, and Hayward had 10 yards and a touchdown. Brent Elkins also contributed 66 rushing yards on the night.

Cassville relied mostly on Jake Nolan as quarterback for the game. Nolan rushed for 41 yards and threw for 36 more. He was four-for-nine on the night.

Michael Baker was Cassville's top receiver, leading off the game with a 16-yard reception.

Defensively, Cassville forced four turnovers with each one helping the 'Cats gain momentum in the game.

Woodruff had a breakout game, tallying four tackles, one sack and a blocked punt. Naugle also contributed from the defensive-end spot, totaling 4.5 tackles with a sack and a tackle for a loss. Phillip Cooper also did well with four tackles and an interception. Cassville's Cory Howard also made two pivotal interceptions on the day.

Injury Report

Cassville did not go home 100 percent from their game with Branson.

Junior Cody Pierson had trouble with his knee in the game and is on a week-to-week basis as far as recovery. Cassville's other injury was to starting half-back Jon Haney. Haney who was X-rayed following the game broke his ankle, and although he has not been told a time-table on recovery, it seems likely it will be for an extended period.

Cassville who is now 1-0 will play Carl Junction (1-0) at home Friday night.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: