Wildcats shutout Lamar, 31-0
The Lamar Tigers, the defending Class 2 state champions and the pick of many preseason polls to win the Big 8 championship, fumbled away their conference title hopes with a 31-0 loss to Cassville on Friday night.
In a game marred by heavy rain, wind and a long lightning delay in the second quarter, the Tigers lost four fumbles and had a punt blocked for a touchdown.
The Tigers fumbled on two of their first three plays from scrimmage and dug themselves a mud hole, both figuratively and literally. The south end of Wildcat Stadium deteriorated rapidly, as all but two first-quarter plays from scrimmage occurred on Lamar's side of the 50-yard line.
The defeat sent Lamar to the back of the line of conference contenders. The Tigers now own a 1-2 overall record after suffering consecutive losses in the Big 8.
The Wildcats improved to 3-0 with the 31-0 victory. Lance Parnell's defense recorded its second consecutive shutout, tacking the Lamar score onto the 45-0 win over McDonald County. Cassville didn't record a shutout last season until week nine, when the Wildcats downed East Newton by a 44-0 margin.
The strong defense of both teams and the inclement weather resulted in a lack of offensive statistics.
Unofficially, Cassville had 216 yards of total offense, and the Lamar total was less than 150. But in the first quarter alone, the Tigers lost fumbles at their own 10, at the Cassville 49 and again at their own 10. The Wildcats converted both the short-field opportunities, scoring on a 22-yard field goal by Bradley Lueckenhoff and a one-yard rumble by Josh Carlton.
Cody Frana and Garrett Kirk teamed up for a punt block and recovery for a touchdown in the first quarter, as Cassville built a 17-0 lead.
With just under 12 minutes to play in the second quarter, the officials sent the teams to the locker rooms for a 40-minute lightning delay. Late in the period, the Wildcats mounted a 63-yard drive and extended the lead when Gabe Kirk found Logan Scott for a 15-yard touchdown strike. Lueckenhoff toed the PAT for a 24-0 lead.
The Wildcats held the Tigers on a three-and-out and thought they had great field possession when Tripp Tucker shanked a punt into the Cassville bench. But the officials marked the ball at the Cassville 49-yard line, the point even with the spot where the ball landed in the out-of-bounds area, and the Wildcats ran out the clock to end the first half.
Midway through the third period, Carlton scored again, bulling into the end zone from three yards out. Lueckenhoff's conversion created the final score of 31-0. Carlton's score from the wishbone formation capped a 79-yard Cassville drive that was aided by 30 yards of Lamar penalties.
At 5'11" and 280 pounds, Carlton brought back memories of William "Refrigerator" Perry's prime-time debut at fullback for the Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football in 1985.
Gabe Kirk surprised the Tigers with his passing arm in the poor weather conditions. Cassville's sophomore quarterback completed six of his nine passes for 74 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
Brent Thompson led the Cassville rushing attack, gaining 81 yards on 10 carries in the mud.
Lamar was without injured standout running back Jared Beshore for the contest.
Cassville goes on the road Friday to Seneca for a crucial Big 8 meeting.
Big 8 scores
Aurora improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big 8 with a 27-15 win over Seneca in a rain-delayed contest. The Indians slipped to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference. Aurora plays at Carl Junction on Friday while Seneca hosts Cassville.
Mt. Vernon continued its strong play with a 28-7 home victory over Pleasant Hill. The Mountaineers are 1-0 in conference play and travel to Lamar on Friday.
The Monett Cubs improved to 2-1 with a 40-0 shutout at McDonald County. The Cubs play next at East Newton.
In a game postponed until Saturday afternoon, Carl Junction blanked East Newton, 36-0.