While Trevor Tanner struggled in the passing department, the Wildcats also nullified two first-half scores with costly penalties. Gouvion scored midway through the second quarter with Tanner's only pass completion of the half and then erupted in the second half to turn a once-tied game into a rout.
"Late in the second quarter, Cassville ball at the Aurora seven-yard line, second-and-goal for the Wildcats. Tanner takes a short drop, dumps it to Gouvion in the right flat, he finds a crease, touchdown Cassville!"
Matt Angel kicked the PAT to tie the game, 7-7, with 7:53 left in the second quarter.
"Cassville ball, first and 10 at the Aurora 20-yard line, Wildcats trying to capitalize after the Aurora turnover. Tanner hands to Gouvion, he cracks the line, cuts outside, touchdown Cassville!"
Angel connected on the second point-after, and the Wildcats took a 14-7 lead with 9:08 showing on the third quarter clock.
"Under seven minutes in the third quarter, and the Wildcats will go for it on fourth down and three at the Aurora 12-yard line. Wishbone formation, Tanner takes the snap, gives to Gouvion running right, he breaks containment at the corner, touchdown Cassville!"
Angel punched through another PAT following the four-play drive, and the 'Cats built a 21-7 lead with 6:09 to play in the third period.
"Third play of the fourth quarter, Cassville football at the Aurora 13-yard line following another fumble. Tanner gives to Gouvion off right guard, he powers to the 10, hesitates, cuts outside off a late block, touchdown Cassville!"
Angel contributed his fourth PAT of the game, and the possibility of the turbo clock running crept into conversations as Cassville led 28-7 with 11:01 to play in the ballgame.
"Seven minutes, 54 seconds to play at Wildcat Stadium, and Cassville has the football first and 10 at the Aurora 31 following the facemask penalty. Tanner leads them to the line, Gouvion dots the I in the power running formation. Tanner takes the snap, he feeds Gouvion off right tackle. Gouvion breaks a tackle and he's gone! HE SCORES AGAIN! Touchdown, Cassville!"
Angel added another perfect extra point at the 7:45 mark, and his 39-yard field goal with 4:46 remaining ended the scoring as the Wildcats improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Big 8 play. Remarkably, Angel outscored the Houn's by himself, with his five PATs and lone field goal for 8 points on the night.
The Aurora players and coaches could only wonder what could have been.
The Houn's played an impressive first half, controlling the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense and stole a page from their hosts when Jared Hickman ran the opening kickoff back 86 yards for the game's first score. Manuel Rios added the PAT for a surprising early lead for Aurora.
There hasn't been a lot to howl about at the junction of Highways 60 and 39 in recent years. Scholten's biggest frustration during the prolonged losing skid has been the fact that his teams were dominated physically week after week. Aurora made a commitment in the offseason to get bigger and stronger and to play more physically this season. It showed in the win over Lamar in week 3.
Against Cassville, the size advantage and offseason conditioning gave Aurora an early boost. The Wildcats did not earn a single first down in the opening quarter, going three-and-out on four consecutive possessions.
The only highlight of the period for Cassville was the apparent game-tying touchdown when the 'Cats appeared to have answered Hickman's effort with their own kickoff-return TD, but it was all for naught as a holding penalty erased the Cassville points.
Gouvion's first score came on Cassville's first possession of the second quarter, and Angel's PAT tied the game at 7-7 with 7:53 remaining before half.
The wheels came off Aurora's offensive wagon, when starting quarterback Garret Ormsby was AWOL on the Houns' next possession. Michael Parbury became the signal caller of record, and Ormsby did not return to the game. The already limited Aurora playbook was sliced even further to accommodate Parbury, who was not a throwing threat.
With less than two minutes to play in the first half, Trevor Tanner pitched to Lewright late out of the wishbone set, and the speedy back galloped 53 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. But another costly penalty wiped out a second Cassville touchdown, and the teams retired at halftime tied 7-7.
Coach David Large was not happy with his line play in the first half.
"The last two weeks, we've been pushed around up front," said Large after the game. "We challenged our offensive line to step up at halftime."
The line stepped up, and Gouvion elevated his game even more. The return of Tanner to the lineup also benefitted Gouvion, as Tanner replaced Gouvion at the linebacker position on defense. Fresh legs helped propel Gouvion to a dominant performance in the second half.
Another key to victory was Cassville's ballhawking defense. Aurora coughed up the ball five times, leading to three Gouvion endzone celebrations and Angel's field goal. Trey Rose, Chris Smith, Bo Blisard, Garret Mahurin and Bobby Jo Hartin all had recoveries for the Wildcats.
With Gouvion on the warpath, the pressure was off the passing game in the second half. In the first half, Cassville tried again and again to exploit the Aurora secondary with Travis Northern, Lewright and Taran Holt. Instead, the Cassville coaching staff adjusted the game plan to feature the running game.
Saying that your punter had a good night while praising your team is usually an oxymoron, but Large talked at length about the kicking contribution of Travis Northern.
"Travis punted eight times and gave us an advantage in field position throughout the night," the coach pointed out. "He doesn't have great technique, but he is very effective."
Cassville may have had a mental lapse against Aurora, but they left the field with new respect for Scholten's team. This was not the 0-10 team of 2008, and the Houns will cause trouble for any team not prepared for a battle in the trenches.
No explanation needed: Joseph Gouvion is this week's Cassville Democrat Wildcat Player of the Game.
Cassville plays at home again on Friday, hosting Lamar in a Big 8 Conference tussle. The Wildcats will have to handle Lamar to stay undefeated in the Big 8 and keep pace with Monett, a 33-22 victor over Mt. Vernon on Friday night, and Seneca, a 21-10 upset winner over the Bulldogs at Carl Junction.
"Against Lamar, we will have to be disciplined on defense," cautioned Large.