Wildcats spook the Indians, 48-13
It was a game that failed to live up to the hype. Playing at home on Halloween under a rustler's moon, the Cassville Wildcats played a near-perfect game in defeating the Seneca Indians by a resounding 48-13 margin in the Class 3 District 4 semi-final.
Gabe Kirk ran for three touchdowns and threw for another as the Wildcats extended their win streak to 11 games.
The Indians nearly derailed Cassville's perfect regular season back in week four. Kirk delivered a 45-yard scoring strike to Logan Scott in the final minutes at Seneca as Cassville claimed a tense 18-14 comeback victory.
Seneca recorded impressive wins over Lamar, Mt. Vernon and Carl Junction this year but also lost to Aurora and Monett in posting a 6-4 record prior to thw Oct. 31 playoff battle at Cassville.
The combination of Seneca's big-play offense and a string of Cassville injuries had many wondering if this game would unearth memories of 2006, when the Indians stormed back from a big halftime deficit to win a playoff game at Cassville, 31-28.
But this game belonged to Cassville.
The Wildcats dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball with ferocious interior play. The Indians committed three turnovers in the contest.
The tone of the game was set when Kirk popped free on Cassville's first possession, and his 36-yard option run off left tackle gave the Wildcats an 7-0 early lead.
On the third play of the second quarter, Kirk found Stone Phelps open in the secondary for a 27-yard scoring strike to increase the lead to 14-0.
After Seneca held Cassville on downs, Cody Frana intercepted Rawlins and returned the theft down to the Seneca 34-yard line.
Brent Thompson ran for 11 yards, then Phelps ran the inside counter for 18 yards to set up first and goal. Thompson scored from three yards out on third down, and the Wildcats held a 21-0 lead with 3:33 left before halftime.
Rawlins rallied the Indians, scrambling out of the pocket and escaping down the sideline to the Cassville 32-yard line. He threw to Kyler Ng for 16 yards. Then Mailes burst through the line down inside the 5. Rawlins threw a fade into the left corner of the end zone, and Graham made the catch while falling over backwards to pull Seneca within 21-7.
With time a factor, Thompson took a reverse handoff from Phelps on the ensuing kickoff and ran across midfield to give the Wildcats great field position.
Cassville's offense kept Seneca off balance with a mixture of draws and screens to earn a first and goal at the 6-yard line. Kirk scored on a quarterback draw on the next play, and Cassville took a 28-7 lead into halftime.
The Indians kicked off to start the second half. Kirk pounded nails into the coffin with a 62-yard scoring run off right tackle on the second play from scrimmage for a 35-7 lead.
Seneca drove into Cassville territory but turned the ball over on downs. The Indians then held Cassville to one first down and a punt but fumbled the punt right back to the Wildcats at the Seneca 30-yard line.
|Again the Seneca defense held Cassville, and the Indians took over on downs at their own 23. Rawlins threw incomplete on first down. On the next play, Logan Scott blitzed through, swatted Rawlins' pass and snatched it out of the air. Scott rumbled to the 5-yard line before the Indians could drag him down.|
Seneca's stalwart defense held for three plays, but a facemask penalty moved the ball to the 1-yard line. Cassville lined up in the wishbone, and Thompson dove over for the score. The Wildcats messed up the PAT try but still held a 41-7 lead at the 1:50 mark of the third quarter.
Rawlins marched his team 75 yards in seven plays as the final quarter began. His 12-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Skaggs cut the lead to 41-13.
The Wildcats answered with their own 75-yard drive, needing only five plays to go ahead 48-13.
Phelps keyed the possession with a 56-yard gain on a reverse. Then Thompson raced into the end zone from seven yards out to create the final score.
An outstanding group of Seneca seniors saw their season end at 6-5. Cassville, still undefeated on the year, advanced to play Monett, a 35-6 winner over Reeds Spring, in the district championship game.
|The Wildcats rushed for 291 yards on 48 carries. Kirk scored three times on the ground while gaining 95 yards on nine carries. Thompson rushed for two touchdowns and gained 79 yards on 20 carries, Prater rushed 40 yards on 12 carries, and Stone Phelps rushed three times for 74 yards.||Kirk had another excellent night throwing the football. Cassville's sophomore quarterback completed seven of nine passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, and suffered no interceptions.|
The Wildcats rolled up 412 yards of total offense.
The Indians rushed 31 times for 123 yards. Mailes led Seneca with 15 carries for 87 yards.
Rawlins had seven carries for 26 yards, and Braxton Graham was held to 10 yards on nine carries.
Rawlins completed 14 of his 24 passes for 138 yards but suffered two costly interceptions. Ng was zero for one on passing after Rawlins left in the fourth quarter with an injury.
The Indians finished the game with 261 yards of total offense.