Wildcats drop Mac County, 45-7
The Cassville Wildcats football team evened its early-season record at 1-1 with a 45-7 win over the McDonald County Mustangs on Friday, Sept. 6 at Wildcat Stadium.
The hometown crowd enjoyed the usual pregame tailgate meet-and-greet before overflowing the home stands to watch the first victory of Lance Parnell's tenure as head coach of the Wildcats.
Prior to the coin toss, a number of alumni from the pre-1960 era were introduced. A special recognition of the late Truman Baker, a member of the Cassville High School Class of 1939, concluded the ceremony.
Cassville then proceeded to dismantle McDonald County in the first half. The Wildcats scored on their first three possessions, posting 21 points on the scoreboard in just over eight minutes of play.
Brent Thompson scored from a yard out after a long pass from Gabe Kirk to Chance Huett, and Cassville moved ahead by 7-0.
McDonald County's first drive ended with a fumble. Wildcat Hayden Prater broke through the line for a 20-yard scoring run just four plays later to create a 14-0 score.
Kirk pitched a 45-yard rainbow to Cade Pendergraft behind the secondary for the third Cassville touchdown of the game, and the Wildcats led by 21-0 with 3:54 on the first-quarter clock.
When the Wildcats were finally forced to punt on their fourth possession, McDonald County fumbled the kick and Thompson recovered in the McDonald County red zone.
After a first-down penalty, Kirk found Marcus Weatherman with a quick slant for a 23-yard touchdown.
The Cassville lead became 28-0 with one minute left in the opening period. Lueckenhoff would not punt again in the first half.
The Wildcats scored two more touchdowns and a field goal before halftime, failing to score only once in the second quarter when Kirk's fumble ended a drive.
Prater's second rushing touchdown, a 1-yard bull rush, led to a 35-0 lead. Lueckenhoff, who was perfect on PATs for the night, salvaged a drive with a 24-yard field goal for a 38-0 lead.
The Mustangs, 75-0 losers to Lamar a week earlier, then scored their first points of the season when Cooper Underwood accepted a Lueckenhoff kickoff right at the goal line and raced 98 yards to set up a short touchdown run by Lavante Jackson.
With just 1:45 remaining in the half, Kirk directed the Wildcats for 71 yards in four plays to finish the scoring.
Prater bounced outside and sprinted down the Cassville sideline on a 60-yard scoring jaunt to push the lead to 45-7.
The second half became a revolving door of reserves for both teams as the mercy clock ticked away.
When it was all said and done, the Wildcats walked off the field with the victory, but with questions still to be answered before the Big 8 showdown at Lamar on Friday night.
The glaring weakness still remaining from the Branson loss was kick coverage. While Lueckenhoff took the pressure off the special teams unit with touchbacks on five of his seven kickoffs, the two Mustang returns wound up at the McDonald County 37-yard line and at the Cassville 2- yard line.
One of the Lamar's many strengths is its kick return unit. The Wildcats need better coverage if they plan on keeping Jared Beshore and company out of the end zone on special teams plays.
The varsity unit watched the second half from the sideline, but the first half statistics were still impressive.
Kirk threw for 137 yards, completing four of eight attempts with no interceptions. Those four completions were spread among four different receivers.
Pendergraft and Weatherman both made scoring grabs.
Prater rumbled for 106 yards and three touchdowns on his five carries. Thompson had eight carries for 38 yards and a touchdown, Kirk had six for 29 yards, and Chase Jackson had four for 26 yards. Unofficially, that's 23 carries for 199 yards and three touchdowns in just one half of football.
Cassville travels to Lamar on Friday Sept. 13 to face the two-time defending
Class 2 state champions.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Big 8 results
Lamar turned a close game into a rout with a number of second half turnovers, enabling the Tigers to defeat Seneca, 56-21, at Seneca.
Monett came from behind to defeat Neosho, 28-25.
Aurora defeated East Newton, 34-13.
Carl Junction shocked Carthage, 63-32.
Cassville defeated Mc-Donald County, 45-7.
Commerce, Okla. edged Mt. Vernon, 7-6.