Cassville dominates Nevada in 41-6 victory

Thursday, October 8, 2009
Getting good field position Democrat Photo by Shannon Haney Ricky Nichols returns the ball downfield after a Nevada kickoff. Nichols picked up 16 yards for Cassville on the return. The Wildcats dominated their hosts and left town with a 41-6 victory, their fifth of the season.

"The best game we've played all year," pronounced Cassville's David Large just after the Wildcats ran their 2009 season record to 5-1 with a 41-6 domination of Nevada.

Cassville jumped all over Nevada early with Josh Lewright recovering a blocked punt in the Tigers' end zone after the home team went three and out on the first offensive series of the game.

The Wildcats led 28-0 at half and put the turbo clock in motion in the fourth quarter. Trevor Tanner and Zach Vititoe both had stellar 61-yard scoring gallops, and Joseph Gouvion scored three times on one-yard dive plays.

Nevada's lone score came in the final minute and a half when Austin Baldwin threw a desperate strike to Tyler Dobson in the end zone for a 25-yard TD reception.

For the second week in a row, Cassville played a Homecoming football contest. This one just happened to be at Logan Field in Nevada where the Tigers hoped to trip up the state-ranked Wildcats.

David Large takes nothing for granted in game preparation, and his game plans always account for a variety of scenarios. Jay Fleeman, the Nevada coach, probably didn't sleep much either in the week before facing Cassville.

The Wildcats found their stride after the sluggish, season-opening loss to Branson, and Large has a number of weapons on offense to challenge any defensive scheme. Plus, the Wildcats defense has stifled recent opponents, allowing point totals of only 19, 13, 7 and 7 in their four-game winning streak.

But there was cause for concern in the Seven Valleys. Cassville's star runningback, Joseph Gouvion, broke a bone in his left hand on a freak play in the Lamar game and wore an awkward cast for protection. Kicking specialist Matt Angel, who has developed into a legitimate weapon on special teams, was not available for the Nevada contest.

Cassville's answer was to spread the ball around on offense, and Tanner and Vititoe ran wild over the Tigers' defense. Tanner ran for 99 yards and Vititoe added 98 as the Wildcats piled up over 280 yards on the ground.

Tanner also completed two for three in the passing department, finding Travis Northern for a 17-yard gain to the Nevada one-yard line to set up Gouvion's second TD with less than 30 seconds left in the first half.

Josh Sexton handled Angel's kicking duties admirably, connecting on five of six PAT attempts and keeping Nevada off balance with some big kick-offs. Only a sophomore, Sexton earned praise from Large for his performance under pressure.

The Cassville defensive starters throttled Nevada for all but one drive until the statbuilder score against the reserves in the waning seconds. Following Lewright's "found it" score after Trenton Tanner blocked Baldwin's punt to start the game, the Tiger signal caller led his team on a 17-play, time-consuming march that fizzled inside the Cassville red zone when Devin Linenbrink sacked Baldwin on fourth and three at the Wildcat 15.

Cassville held Nevada to a total of 60 rushing yards on 33 carries.

"Their quarterback is a great player, and those two receivers had us worried when we watched them on film," said Coach Large.

But the Wildcats blitzed and confused Baldwin throughout the contest, forcing three interceptions and a number of dangerous pitches on option plays.

Linebacker Trenton Tanner and fullback Vititoe are this week's Cassville Democrat Co-Wildcat Players of the Week for their contributions against the Tigers.

Trenton Tanner blocked a punt to open the scoring flood and was involved in a number of key defensive plays, including a highlight-reel tackle of Nevada's Kyle O'Bryan on the last play of the third quarter. Vititoe rushed for 98 yards and a long touchdown in his first game as the featured runningback.

Cassville returns home on Friday to face Big 8 nemesis Carl Junction, one of three teams that defeated the Wildcats last year.

"Coach Gosch does a great job, he always has his kids prepared," said Coach Large. "They came from behind late to beat us last year."

While sixth-ranked Cassville had no trouble with Nevada, the state's #1 team in Class 3 struggled to survive against Aurora. Monett scored late to defeat the Houn's, 14-7.

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