Wildcats collar the 'Dogs
The Cassville defense put in a full night's work on Friday, earning their second shutout of the season as the Wildcats collared the Carl Junction's Bulldogs, 42-0. The offense was equally efficient, scoring on five of seven first-half possessions.
"We did a good job of balancing run and pass" said Cassville's David Large. "We showed a couple of screens and draws early."
Kyle Brattin amassed over 100 yards rushing to lead Cassville's ground troops in the contest. Ricky Nichols completed three of his six passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, all in the first two quarters of play.
The top-ranked Wildcats reached the end of the "first season" with a perfect 7-0 mark, while extending the win streak to 21 games.
On Friday night, Cassville won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Ryan Anderson returned a Garrett Barnes kickoff out to his 21-yard line. Three plays later, CJ's Chase Marrs punted away on fourth and eight, and the Wildcats started their first possession at their own 34-yard line.
After Brattin rumbled for 12 yards on first down, Cassville caught the Bulldogs off guard with a play fake and launched a rainmaker throw down the right hash. Although closely covered, Josh Lewright adjusted to the ball and hauled it in at the six-yard line. The 48-yard pass play set up first and goal, and Brattin waded into the endzone on the next play with 9:58 on the clock.
Barnes tacked on the PAT for an early 7-0 lead.
The Bulldogs began their second possession at the 20, and quarterback Drew Snyder drilled a pass between defenders for a 26-yard gain on the first play. A major penalty doomed the drive though, and Marrs punted again. Lewright broke through to get a piece of the ball, and the kick traveled only 19 yards to the Cassville 41-yard line.
The Wildcats displayed their depth at running back, utilizing four different ball carriers in a seven-play scoring drive. Trenton Tanner crossed the goal line from 12 yards out, taking a late pitch from Nichols on the option to the left side. Barnes put another scuff on his green shoes with the PAT, and the 'Cats led 14-0 with 5:31 still remaining in the opening quarter.
Another penalty cost Carl Junction 15 yards on the kickoff return. Although Snyder found Jay Thomas with a pass to earn a first down at the 36 yard line, the Bulldogs could not sustain the drive.
On the ensuing possession, Nichols led the Wildcats on a seven-play scoring drive. Six times the Wildcats attacked from the I with Stan Stringer leading for Kyle Brattin.
"Cassville football, first and 10 at the Carl Junction 19-yard line. Nichols has split backs behind him, he drops back to pass. Trenton Tanner takes the behind-the-back handoff and sprints to the left side, he's got a crease, TOUCHDOWN CASSVILLE!"
The Wildcats ran the Statue of Liberty to perfection with Nichols feeding Tanner to score on the same play that Boise State's Jared Zabransky and Ian Johnson used to beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
Barnes chipped in his third conversion kick of the quarter as Cassville opened a 21-0 lead.
The Bulldogs marched to midfield to open the second quarter. Trent Landes pounded away between the tackles, earning respect with his hard-nosed running style. But Snyder's third-down completion was short of the needed yardage, and Marrs punted again with 9:23 left in the half.
The Bulldogs then held the Wildcats to a three-and-out, and Stone Phelps punted out of bounds at the Carl Junction 43-yard line.
Trailing by three scores, Carl Junction opened up on offense. But Cassville's defense met the challenge presented by Snyder's arm. Adam Prier tipped Snyder's first-down pass to cause an incompletion. Tyler Skinner chased the Carl Junction quarterback out of bounds for a loss of eight yards on second down. Then Chris Smith intercepted a Snyder pass and returned it to the Carl Junction 23-yard line.
On the very next play, Nichols found Smith open on a late-developing post route for another Cassville touchdown, and Barnes' PAT built a 28-0 score with 7:30 left in the half.
The Bulldogs committed another turnover less than a minute later, with Bo Blisard recovering Snyder's fumble at the Cassville 46-yard line. Nichols faked the pitch and scored on the veer to eternity option to extend the lead. Barnes added his fifth contribution of the night, and Cassville owned a 35-0 lead with 5:30 remaining in the half.
Carl Junction responded with an 11-play drive that reached the Cassville 36-yard line. Landes carried six times on the march, and Snyder picked up three first downs, once with a naked bootleg and twice with precision passes. But Trevor Shumaker tipped away Snyder's long pass attempt on fourth and 18 to end the scoring threat.
The Wildcats went to the dressing room with a 35-0 lead.
Coach Large allowed his first-team offense one drive in the second half. They made the most of the opportunity.
Operating exclusively out of the wishbone, Nichols drove the Wildcats 85 yards in a gritty 11-play drive. Stringer recovered a fumble to keep the possession alive at the Carl Junction 20-yard line, and then Brattin sprinted off right tackle for the game's final touchdown with 4:35 left in the third quarter.
Barnes remained perfect on the night, making the score 42-0.
The turbo clock and a couple of long drives hurried the game to its conclusion. The Bulldogs consumed nine minutes on a 13-play drive that reached deep into Cassville territory. But Landes fumbled on the Cassville sideline at the 20-yard line, and Devin Linenbrink handed the ball to the official on the spot to end Carl Junction's last scoring threat.
Cole Beagle took the kneeldown on the game's final play as Cassville earned another Big 8 Conference victory.
The Wildcats will play their final home game of the regular season on Friday night when they renew their Highway 37 rivalry with Monett. The Cubs fell to 2-5 with a 41-9 loss to Mt. Vernon on Friday night, but no one is taking Chad Depee's club lightly.
"This is Monett week and you know what that means," Coach Large told his Cassville huddle on Friday night. "Be prepared!"