The Wildcats traveled to Carl Junction to face the Bulldogs on Friday, Oct. 10 in what proved to be a very challenging game for Cassville.
Cassville kicked off to start the first half and forced a turnover that quickly led to the first touchdown of the game, as Joseph Gouvion was able to run the ball in on the Wildcats' first drive. Aaron Jamieson then kicked the extra point to make the score 7-0.
The game then began to develop into a very evenly matched battle as both teams held each other back from scoring on a series of stalled drives. Things changed again in Cassville's favor, as Robbie Coberly was able to breach the Bulldog's backfield and gain a safety for the Wildcats, which increased Cassville's lead to 9-0.
Carl Junction was able to get on the scoreboard when they forced Cassville to punt on the following drive and then pushed up the field to gain their first touchdown and extra point, leaving the score at 9-7.
As the second quarter got underway, the momentum slowed down for both teams and there was another series of dying drives. Cassville had the ball on their second possession of the half when a fumble gave Carl Junction an opportunity to score another touchdown and gain a 13-9 lead.
Trenton Tanner was able to block the extra point attempt following the touchdown, but the Bulldogs left very little time remaining on the clock and Cassville was unable to score again before half time.
The Bulldogs kicked off to start the second half and Cassville seemed to be regaining control of the game as they dominated the third quarter. Quarterback Jake Nolan made a run into the endzone, putting six more points on the board and giving the Wildcats a 15-13 lead.
Carl Junction then muffed the kick-off reception and Cassville recovered. Gouvion ran the ball in for another touchdown that gave the Wildcats a 22-13 edge following the extra point.
The fourth quarter ended up being the one that decided it all as Carl Junction began their comeback with a touchdown and extra point on the first drive of the quarter. This left the Wildcats with a marginal two-point lead.
The two teams fought back and fourth in a very intense battle. As the game was drawing to a close, the Bulldogs finally pushed their way deep into Cassville territory and hit a field goal that allowed them to tally the three points they needed to take a one-point lead and steal the game from the Wildcats with a 23-22 win.
The loss could be attributed to mistakes more than anything else, according to Coach David Large.
"CJ did a great job of coming back and executing at the end," said Coach Large. "We made a lot of mistakes and didn't deserve to win. I didn't think our intensity was as good as it needed to be and that is my fault."
Despite the miscues, Cassville did plenty of things right.
Gouvion led the Wildcats in rushing, tallying 61 yards for the night. Haney accumulated 47 yards, Brent Elkins gained 17 yards, and Nolan carried for nine yards.
Nolan also passed for 78 yards. Ethan Couch led the night for receiving with 61 yards on two catches. Travis Northern managed 16 yards, and Gouvion gained one yard.
The defense came up with some great plays during the game.
"Our defense did a great job all night after we had given CJ some short fields," said Coach Large.
Although there were no interceptions for the Wildcats, they still accomplished a blocked kick and a safety.
J.R. Woodruff had a successful night, gaining the most tackles in the game with a total of 10. Couch was a close second, accumulating nine tackles, Elkins had eight tackles, Cody Pierson had six, Josh Lewright and Nathan Riehn tallied five, Coberly and Stockton achieved three tackles, and Chris Smith and Tanner both had two tackles each.
The special teams also made some notable plays. Jamieson kicked off for 222 yards and punted for 168 yards. Elkins returned for 49 yards on the night, while Gouvion had 28 return yardage.
Pierson and Tanner also caused a great turnover during a kick-off reception that was a highlight of the night. Pierson hit the receiver, forcing the ball loose, and Tanner made the recovery.
The Wildcats will travel to Monett on Friday, Oct. 17 for a huge Big 8 match-up.