The Monett Cubs hosted the Cassville Wildcats on Monday night in the second round of the state play-offs as a large crowd of fans on both sides of the field braved the cold wind and rain to watch what turned out to be one of the most intense contests of the year.
The rematch got underway with the Wildcats receiving the ball first to start the game. Early on, both Monett and Cassville suffered a series of stalled drives due to the outstanding defensive efforts of both squads.
In the middle of the first quarter, Monett intercepted a Cassville pass and was able to turn it into a successful drive, placing the first points of the night on the scoreboard as the Cubs ran the ball in for a touchdown. The failed extra point attempt left the score at 6-0 in Monett's favor.
The Wildcats were forced to punt on their next possession but were quick to gain some momentum of their own on the next drive when Brent Elkins came away with an interception that eventually led to Cassville's first touchdown of the game.
On that play, Ethan Couch broke away for an excellent 55-yard run into the endzone to tie the game at six apiece. A blocked extra point attempt left the score knotted at 6-6.
The Cubs were quick to answer with a touchdown pass on their next possession, which they followed up with a two-point conversion to regain control of the game with a 14-6 advantage.
Neither team was able to find the endzone during the rest of the half as both teams played excellent defense until half time was finally called.
With the start of the third quarter, the tide seemed to turn in Cassville's favor after the Wildcats kicked off to start the second half.
During the first play of the Cubs' opening drive, a fumble resulted in a turnover that gave the Wildcats an opportunity to tie the game as Jon Haney carried the ball into the end zone. Trevor Tanner followed it up with a two-point conversion run that left the game at 14-14.
Cassville forced Monett to punt on their next possession, and the Wildcat offense hammered their way through the Cub's defense to score again as Tanner took a hand-off and blazed through the Monett backfield to gain another touchdown for the Wildcats.
Jamieson made the kick for the extra point and Cassville took control at 21-14, following a 15-play drive that spanned over 56 yards and left Monett with very little time to work in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was perhaps the most intense as neither team found success early on. Chris Smith was finally able to come away with an interception that sparked another drive to the endzone late in the quarter.
The Wildcats scored the final points of the game as Tanner tallied another touchdown on a 20-yard run. Jamieson finished with the extra point to widen Cassville's advantage to 28-14 and put victory out of the Cub's reach.
The Wildcats' victory not only ruined the Cub's flawless record but also forced their defense to give up the most points they had given to any team they faced all year.
"Our kids played hard and executed well tonight; I am very proud," said Coach David Large.
The Cassville offense earned 288 yards on the night, with 249 yards rushing and only 39 yards passing.
Haney led the night with 79 yards rushing, followed by Couch with 57 yards. Joseph Gouvion was close behind with 54 yards while Tanner and Jake Nolan accumulated 29 and 26 yards respectively.
Travis Northern had the most yards in receptions with a total of 23. He also was credited with a big block that led to Tanner's second touchdown run of the night.
Jamieson came through for the Wildcats' special teams with several kicks that held Monett at a disadvantage for field position throughout the game, giving the defense an extra boost in their already great performance.
"It makes the thrill of the game that much better when you see full stands on both sides of the field supporting these kids out here," said Coach Large. "I look forward to being able to play in front of our community at home this coming Saturday."
Cassville will face Rogersville at 1:30 p.m. in a Class 3 quarterfinal game.