Wildcats crush Prairie Grove Tigers
The Cassville Wildcats improved to 3-0 on the season with a 40-14 interstate victory over the Prairie Grove Tigers on Friday night. Cassville left northwest Arkansas with a perfect non-conference record after dominating the Tigers in every phase of the game.
With their team down 37-0 with 8:41 remaining in the third quarter, the Prairie Grove faithful swallowed a heavy dose of reality.
"This Cassville Wildcat team really is that good," commented Zack Abrams on the home internet broadcast.
Clad in white pants with their road white jerseys for the first time in memory, the Wildcats racked up some gaudy statistics while handing the Tigers their first loss of the season.
As a team, Cassville rushed 34 times for 357 yards.
Kyle Brattin led the way with 15 totes for 185 yards.
Ricky Nichols added 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just four touches.
Sophomore running back Brent Thompson carried seven times for 25 yards and scored a touchdown, all in the second half.
Trey Rose scored on an 80-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter.
Nichols threw for 70 yards and a touchdown, going 6-7-1 through the air.
Garrett Barnes hit a pair of field goals (27 and 31 yards), and was 4-5 in PAT's.
The defense pitched a shutout until the 4:05 mark of the third quarter.
The Tigers entered the game at 1-0 after mauling Lavaca in their home opener, 41-6. Last year's game at Cassville ended with the Wildcats winning 42-14, but Prairie Grove entered the stadium with high hopes.
The 2010 Tigers finished the season with a 4-6 mark, but showed ability and resolve with a 16-14 upset of 11-3 West Fork. The return of the skill players from last season buoyed the confidence of the home team.
The Wildcat Nation arrived in time for the ice-cream party in the parking lot, and about 500 Cassville fans effectively filled the aluminum bleachers on the visitors' side. Prairie Grove has one of those old stadiums without a track, where the crowd sits seemingly right on top of the players on the sidelines.
The Tigers won the toss and started with first and 10 at their own 10-yard line after a penalty on the opening kickoff. Cassville's defensive line recovered a second-down fumble at the Prairie Grove 11-yard line less than a minute into the game.
"Cassville football, third and 16 at the Prairie Grove 17-yard line . . . Nichols is in the shotgun with an empty backfield . . . he takes the snap . . . throws to Kyle Brattin over the middle . . . TOUCHDOWN CASSVILLE!"
Barnes connected with the PAT and the Wildcats jumped to a 7-0 lead with 9:36 left in the opening quarter.
After the Barnes kickoff, Prairie Grove marched from their own 33-yard line into the red zone in 10 plays. But on second and 10 at the Cassville 15-yard line, Cooper Winters was intercepted by Garret Kirk in the end zone.
Nichols drove the Wildcats into Tiger territory, but he was intercepted by Jon Halbert on a long throw intended for Trey Rose. The Tigers crossed midfield, but then Winters punted into the end zone for a touchback to start the second quarter.
With the Cassville offensive line creating huge holes, Brattin carried on four consecutive plays, moving the ball to the Prairie Grove 28-yard line.
"Cassville football, second and seven at the Tigers' 25-yard line . . . Brattin and Myers are split behind Nichols . . . Brattin plunges into the left side of the line and he's stacked up . . . NICHOLS STILL HAS THE BALL AND HE'S IN THE END ZONE . . . TOUCHDOWN CASSVILLE!"
A great ball fake by Nichols fooled everyone in the stadium, and the senior quarterback sprinted untouched down the left sideline for the score. Although the PAT attempt failed, the Wildcats held a 13-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Winters again drove his team to the Cassville red zone, confusing the Wildcats with a five-receiver set.
"We had a little trouble adjusting to that set," acknowledged Rose, the senior free safety.
But on fourth and eight at the Cassville 17-yard line, Rose nearly came up with a pick, and the incompletion halted the Prairie Grove drive.
The option play has always been one of the most exciting weapons in football. But for the defense that can't contain it, the play seems like the veer-to-eternity when the quarterback makes the correct read and either keeps or pitches for a long gain.
Nichols started the next Cassville possession with a 44-yard gallop off left tackle on the option. Then after a 3-yard plunge by Myers, Nichols finished the drive with a 36-yard burst to the end zone.
Three plays, 83 yards. The Barnes PAT made the score 20-0 with 3:41 left in the half.
The Wildcats held the Tigers to a three-and-out, and then Nichols led the team on a 55-yard drive to the Prairie Grove 10-yard line. On first and 10 from the Tigers' 32-yard line, Nichols threw to Garrett Kirk, who held on for a 22-yard gain despite being decleated by a highlight hit from Colby Elkins.
Barnes coolly hit a 27-yard field goal as the half expired, and Cassville led 23-0 at the break.
With the home fans looking for any kind of spark to jumpstart their team, the Wildcats applied the dagger immediately. Stone Phelps accepted Landon Allen's kickoff at the Cassville 20-yard line, and handed the ball to Trey Rose as he reversed toward the left sideline.
Rose found a seam on the hash mark, and exploded down the sideline for the 80-yard scoring return. Barnes chipped the PAT through the uprights and Cassville led 30-0 after only 13 seconds had elapsed in the third quarter.
The lead grew to 37-0 after Thompson bulled into the end zone from a yard out with 8:41 on the third quarter clock.
Prairie Grove managed two late scores, with Winters finding Landon West loose for a pair of TD passes. Barnes ended the Cassville scoring with a 31-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
"You guys played great in the first half," Cassville's David Large told his team in the post-game huddle. "We started this season well and we haven't taken a step back yet."
Cassville begins Big 8 Conference play next Friday when they host the Aurora Houn' Dawgs at Wildcat Stadium at 7 p.m. Aurora enters the contest with a 2-1 record, defeating Warsaw (55-8) and Carl Junction (18-13), and losing to Lamar (40-19).