Wildcats fall to Branson
On Friday, the Wildcats headed to Branson to play their first game of the season. Unfortunately, they were not able to come home with a victory, but it was not due to lack of trying. Although Branson won, Cassville did not stop fighting until the last second ticked off of the clock in the Wildcats' first non-conference game this year.
Branson hit hard and fast, claiming a 19-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. Struggling to turn the game around, Cassville did not gain a first down until halfway through the second quarter. The Wildcats were finally able to score following a bad punt snap as Jon Haney ran the ball in for a touchdown right before half time.
The second half began with the ball in Cassville's possession, but the Wildcats were unable to move the ball forward. Branson scored again in the third quarter to extend their lead to 25-7.
In the fourth quarter, Cassville got on the scoreboard for the second time on the night with Haney running the ball into the endzone to make the score 25-14. The Wildcats then attempted an onsides kick and barely miss recovering it, which could have turned the game around in their favor.
Cassville's offense was unsuccessful all night at running the ball and finished with negative nine yards rushing for the game while Branson was able to pick up 329 yards on the ground.
The Pirates were able to win the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball, making it difficult for the Wildcats' backfield to stop the Branson offense and hard for the Wildcats to develop much offense.
"We got whipped all night up front, and we have to get more physical," said Coach David Large. "Branson is much improved and came out very fired up. We have to do a better job of preparing our kids at the start of the game. I was proud of how our kids never gave up when Branson could have put the game away."
Despite the loss, the team still did well and made a valiant effort at Branson.
Kicker Aaron Jamieson just missed putting the second kick-off of the night for Cassville through the uprights and converted both extra points.
The Wildcat passing game was another bright note on the night. Quarterback Jake Nolan passed for a total of 199 yards, completing 15 of 25 passes. Trevor Tanner made two catches for a total of 71 yards, and Travis Northern was able to catch five passes for a total of 59 yards.
On defense, Ethan Couch had 14 tackles for the night, and J.R. Woodruff tallied seven tackles and one sack. Trenton Tanner recorded six tackles while Brent Elkins, Josh Lewright and Cody Pierson were each credited with five tackles.
Going into the second week of the season, the Wildcats will have much on their minds as they prepare for their first home game against Mt. Vernon on Sept. 5.
As always, this will be a big night for the team as the Wildcats will have a chance to play for their beloved fans and end the night with the team's first victory of the season against the very ambitious Mountaineers.