Cassville holds off Monett's upset bid
"Someone has got to beat Cassville, it might as well be us," Monett coach Chad Depee told his players all week. But despite the inspired play of the Cubs on Friday, Sept. 28, the Cassville Wildcats overcame adversity and held on for a 30-20 victory at Monett's Burl Fowler Stadium.
The state-ranked Wildcats ran their perfect season record to 6-0 and remained atop the Big 8 Conference with a 4-0 slate. Monett slipped to 4-2, 2-2 with the loss that ended a four-game winning streak.
Cassville's reserve quarterback Ty Craig, making his second consecutive start in place of an injured Gabe Kirk, threw two first quarter touchdowns and ran for two more on the night to lead the Wildcats to victory.
The Wildcats scored on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter.
While both drives were aided by major penalties against the Cubs, it was the right arm of Craig that authored the scores. Craig found Cole Beagle wide open on a 15-yard skinny post route for the game's first touchdown at the 7:49 mark and then threw a perfect fade route to Garrett Kirk from 22 yards out to make it 14-0 with 3:12 remaining in the first quarter.
At that point in the contest, Cassville had more touchdowns than Monett had first downs. After another three-and-out possession, the Cubs punted down to the Cassville 26-yard line. On fourth down and long, Stone Phelps watched the long snap sail over his head, and his only option was to punch the ball through the end zone for a safety.
Momentum swung to the home side of the field. Monett's Kyle Woods directed his team 43 yards in eight plays, with Kurran Blamey bursting off right tackle to score from 20 yards out. Aaron Aldrich's PAT hit the upright though, and the score remained 14-8 with 7:59 left in the first half.
Cassville was totally out of sync for the rest of the quarter. The Wildcats made one first down on their next drive on a Monett penalty then fumbled the ball back to the Cubs. Monett threatened as the clock wound down, but Woods was sacked by Braiden Vaught in the final 20 seconds and then Aldrich's 38-yard field goal attempt was wide to the right.
"We told our kids at halftime that whoever won the third quarter would win the ball game," said Cassville's David Large.
The Wildcats drove 65 yards after receiving the second half kickoff, and Craig broke free down the Cassville sideline to score from 21 yards out. Bradley Lueckenhoff kicked his third PAT of the game to give the Wildcats a 21-8 cushion with 8:17 left in the quarter.
The Cubs went three and out on a critical series, and then the Wildcats came up short on fourth down at the Monett 16-yard line.
With time running out in the third quarter, the Cubs faced a fourth and one at their own 26-yard line. With Cassville's offense grinding out first downs again after halftime, Depée had a no-brainer decision. Punting the ball to Cassville would be tantamount to conceding the game.
The Wildcats may have suspected a fake punt could be in order, but they didn't seem to expect it. Cameron Witt fielded the deep snap and broke up the field for a 16-yard gain and a Monett first down.
On the very next play, Woods punished Cassville's secondary with a 58-yard bomb to Blamey for a touchdown. The PAT failed but Monett had climbed back into the game, trailing by only 21-14 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.
Hayden Prater bounced outside for a 37-yard run to open Cassville's next drive, but the Wildcats stalled inside the red zone. Lueckenhoff connected with a 31-yard field goal to give the Wildcats a 24-14 lead with 10:17 left to play.
The Cubs scored on the next possession with Woods scrambling in from 10 yards out. But the biggest play of the 56-yard drive was a motion penalty against Monett. That flag erased a 31-yard touchdown run by Aaron Hall. Although Monett would go on to score on the drive, an additional two minutes ran off the clock during the six extra plays Monett needed to repost the score.
Cassville's Cody Frana broke through to block the PAT kick, and the Wildcats clung to a 24-20 lead with 3:44 to play.
Frana recovered the onside kick attempt, but Cassville could not move the chains. Monett's Chase Brennan fair caught Phelps' punt at the 10-yard line at the 2:02 mark.
Woods threw three straight incompletions and then was intercepted by Prater at the Monett 30-yard line on a do-or-die fourth down play.
Cassville ran three plays out of the wishbone set as the clock burned away, and Craig scored from 10 yards out to put the game out of reach. The battle of Barry County went to Cassville for a fifth straight time.
Monett rushed 46 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Hall had 22 carries for 52 yards, Blamey had eight carries for 49 yards and a TD, and Woods had nine carries for 34 yards and a touchdown Zack Swearingen had six carries for 29 yards, and punter Cameron Witt had one carry for 16 yards.
Woods completed four of 15 passes for 103 yards and suffered three interceptions.
Monett finished with 283 total yards, unofficially.
Cassville rushed 40 times for 240 yards.
Brent Thompson had 15 carries for 111 yards. Craig had 12 carries for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Prater had nine carries for 57 yards. Garrett Kirk had two carries for 25 yards, and Phelps had one carry for 3 yards. A 14-yard loss and accompanying fumble charged to the team accounts for the mathematical discrepancy.
Craig completed three of seven passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Marcus Weatherman completed his only pass attempt for 32 yards. Thompson was 0-1 with an attempted halfback pass.
Cassville finished with 314 total yards, unofficially.
"Sometimes it's tough," Large told his players in their postgame huddle. "You just beat a very good football team; you're still undefeated. We've got things we need to work on, but we've got another week to get better and get healthier."
The Seneca Indians defeated Mt. Vernon, 48-20, and improved to 3-3, 2-2 on the season. The Mountaineers fell to 4-2, 2-2.
Lamar defeated Carl Junction, 47-13, and improved to 5-2, 2-2. CJ slipped to 2-4, 2-2.
East Newton fell 50-27 to McDonald County in nonconference play. The Patriots are now 0-6 on the season.
Aurora dropped a 39-28 game to Logan-Rogersville to fall to 3-3, 2-2.
Week 7 action in the Big 8 has Cassville hosting East Newton, Aurora playing at Mt. Vernon, Monett playing at Lamar, and Seneca playing at Carl Junction.