Defining moment: Wildcats trump Mt. Vernon
For every team there comes a moment that can define its season. A capsule of time in which they can either succeed or falter.
Head Coach David Large told the Wildcats at half time that the second half would be a defining moment for them, and what a moment it was. Cassville came back to beat Mt. Vernon (4-2, 3-2) 27-20 in overtime.
"I was really proud of the kids and the way they faced the adversity in the game," said Coach Large.
Trailing 14-0 at halftime, the Wildcats were forced to rally to tie the game and then won it in overtime.
Cassville scored on its first possession in the extra period, but the Mountaineers looked as if they would also. (Note: In overtime each team gets an opportunity to score, with each starting just 25 yards from the goal-line.)
Mt. Vernon drove the ball to the eight-yard line, setting themselves up with a first-and-goal scenario. However, Cassville's defense shut them down giving up two yards on a run but stopping three passes to give Cassville the win.
The Wildcats were given the opportunity to win because of some gutsy play by their offense. In overtime, Cassville took the ball first and after a sack, a run and an incomplete pass, the Wildcats were faced with a fourth-and-five at the 20-yard line.
Choosing to go for it, Cassville's Jake Nolan looked to pass. With a blitzing linebacker bearing down on top of him, Nolan hit a wide open Ryan Rowley in the end-zone, giving Cassville the 27-20 lead and eventual win.
The first half of the game saw Mt. Vernon dominant. The Mountaineers scored twice in the first half. Corey Phillips caught a 34-yard pass from Kellen Cox in the first quarter and Stephen Swillum ran in a one-yard score in the second.
Cassville rallied in the third quarter. Ethan Couch, on a blitz, forced Cox to fumble and Jacob Gouvion scooped up the ball and took it in for Cassville's first score.
The Wildcats' second score came when Nolan hit Brent Elkins on a 16-yard touchdown on fourth down. A slippery ball helped Mt. Vernon keep the lead as Elkins could not keep the snap under control and an extra point missed.
The Mountaineers scored early in the fourth quarter with a five-yard reverse by Phillips, but a failed two-point attempt allowed Cassville to stay close. The Wildcats would capitalize on Mt. Vernon's mistake.
Cassville put its last drive together with only four minutes remaining in the contest. The home team drove 58 yards before Nolan threw an 18-yard pass to Cory Howard to get the 'Cats within a point. Aaron Jamieson had no trouble with the extra-point, tying the game and giving Cassville the opportunity to win in overtime.
Nolan finished with an outstanding night for the Wildcats. He ended the night 11-23 for 143 yards and three touchdowns. The junior now has over 500 yards passing for the season. He also led Cassville's rushing attack with 31 yards on the ground.
"In the second half. Jake really responded," said Coach Large.
The Wildcat receivers also saw quite a bit of action. Howard led the receiving core with five receptions for 65 yards and one touchdown. Rowley and Elkins also had touchdown catches.
Gouvion led the defense. The senior totaled 5.5 tackles on Friday with three for a loss. Gouvion also had a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown.
Couch also helped the Wildcat defense. Cassville's top tackler added to his resume with 9.5 tackles, one sack, two tackles for a loss and one forced fumble.
Dannon Rose and Rowley also caught Mountaineers in the backfield, while Nathan Riehn and Elkins finished with 5.5 tackles. Kenneth Taft also had five tackles.
Cassville is now 6-0 (4-0) on the season and will look to stay perfect as they travel to East Newton this Friday.
Cassville has had some key injuries that have hurt them this year, but the Wildcats injury report might be on an upswing.
Cody Pierson looks to possibly return this week. Pierson was one of Cassville's key cogs in the secondary before being injured. He had 2.5 tackles, two interceptions and one touchdown before his injury.
Dylan Yarnall, Cassville's original starting center this year, might practice this week and could also find some playing time soon. Yarnall continues to progress and could help add some more stability to Cassville's offensive front.
Also Jon Haney who rushed for 149 yards in Cassville's first game has disposed of the cast that was on his broken ankle. Haney is continuing physical therapy but is also progressing.
Elkins is Cassville's only player who was hurt last game. Elkins fell on a loose snap and was then hit by a Mt. Vernon player who was also going for the ball. Elkins has not yet received word of the severity of his injury.