Wildcats win Mud Bowl over Aurora
The Cassville Wildcats football team defeated the visiting Aurora Houn' Dawgs 21-0 on Oct. 18, overcoming both their opponents and the elements in the process.
Running back Hayden Prater scored two touchdowns on short runs. Cassville's Brent Thompson ran for 161 yards and another score as the Wildcats improved to 4-4 on the season.
Nothing ruins a good football game more than mud. Not rain, hail, sleet, snow, wind or scorching heat.
No other element has a greater deleterious effect on the game's participants, robbing them of the ability to run, cut, catch, kick, leap and block. No other substance makes the ball harder to handle, renders the field virtually impassable and saps the strength of quaking muscles like nature's disgusting brown Jell-O.
Short of a monsoon, rain is manageable when in a game played on turf. But the relentless addition of H2O to natural grass changes a playing field to a stage of infuriating helplessness, grim despair and unintended comedy.
Such was the setting for the clash between Cassville and Aurora at Wildcat Field on Friday night. Two excellent teams with talented stars played more mud wrestling than football. The elements reduced the playbook of both teams to basic dive plays, and put the burden of winning on the linemen.
The Wildcats were the most physical team from the outset. Aurora's offense never mounted a sustained drive against the Cassville defense. The Wildcats moved the ball methodically, with Thompson and Prater mucking for yardage behind the dominant offensive line.
Cassville scored first, capitalizing on a Cody Olson interception. Olson's pick gave the Wildcats the ball at the Aurora 29-yard line. Prater scored on the 10th play of the short-field possession, bulling into the end zone from a yard out. Bradley Lueckenhoff's extra point kick gave Cassville a 7-0 lead at the 8:52 mark of the second quarter.
Aurora's best scoring opportunity came when Skylar Cahill returned the ensuing kickoff back to the Cassville 17-yard line.
The Houn' Dawgs gained six yards in three plays, but then William Blankenship was thrown for a loss on fourth down.
That play typified the dominance of the Cassville defense. Aurora managed only one first down for the entire game. That lone movement of the chains came on Aurora's first possession, when Josh Fronabarger threw a 17-yard completion to convert on a third-and-13 deep in Aurora territory. After that, nothing.
The Wildcats drove a muddy stake through the heart of the Aurora defense with a long scoring drive in the waning moments of the second quarter.
Kirk, who was knocked out the game for a series in the first quarter, returned to lead the Wildcats on an 11-play, 59-yard scoring drive that ate up all but 11 seconds of the final 2:53 of the half.
Prater scored his second touchdown of the night, and the Wildcats went to the locker room with a 14-0 lead.
The rain abated a bit late in the first half, but returned with a vengeance as the players regrouped on the field. Neither team could manage a first down in the third quarter.
Cassville drained almost six minutes off the fourth-quarter clock with a drive to the Aurora 13-yard line, but the Wildcats surrendered the ball on downs with 6:14 to play.
Aurora fought gamely, giving the ball back to Cassville in the red zone on a fourth down incompletion with just over four minutes remaining. Thompson took advantage of the field position, skating through the bog for a 17-yard touchdown on the next play as Cassville built a 21-0 lead.
The game was over when Lueckenhoff's squib kick eluded the return team and was recovered by the Wildcats at the Aurora 34-yard line.
With the win, the Wildcats took another step closer to hosting a district playoff game on Halloween night. Reeds Spring still leads the district standings, but the top four seeded teams, determined by a formula known only to MSHSAA and a select group of NASA scientists, all earn home berths for the first round of districts.
Coach Lance Parnell's team will conclude the regular season on Friday night, hosting the Mt. Vernon Mountaineers at Wildcat Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Big 8 roundup
The Carl Junction Bulldogs marched on toward the Big 8 title, defeating Mt. Vernon, 41-14.
Lamar had no trouble with East Newton, shutting out the Patriots, 63-0.
Seneca handed Monett a shutout loss, 27-0.
Cassville downed Aurora, 21-0.
The final Friday of the regular season has Mt. Vernon at Cassville, Carl Junction at Monett, Seneca at East Newton, and Lamar at Aurora.