Cassville copes with Seneca loss
Wildcats aim to rebound after first regular-season loss since 2017
It had been 721 days since the Cassville football team lost a regular season game, and if history is any indication, the Wildcats should be wary in the future of Earl Campbell Stadium and Tom Hodge Field in Seneca.
The last Cassville regular-season loss came in Seneca, a 33-14 defeat on Sept. 29, 2017. The Wildcats bested the Indians at home last year, 62-27, during of an undefeated regular season, then beat the Indians again in the playoffs, 35-29.
“I think I said it during our pregame [Friday], Seneca has a great atmosphere and a good program, and it’s a battle any time you go over there,” said Lance Parnell, Cassville coach.
Describing Friday’s contest as a battle could almost be an understatement, as the game was marked by five lead changes, 19 total penalties and, ultimately, it came down to the final seconds to decide a winner.
Cassville (3-1) led 21-14 early in the second half after a DJ White 39-yard touchdown reception. The rest of the third quarter was filled with punts from both teams, and one Brett Cooper interception.
Cassville began burning the clock in the final quarter, however, following a personal foul penalty that moved the ball back, the Indians put together an 8-play, 80-yard drive to take a 28-21 lead with only 2:13 to play.
Those final minutes took nearly 15 minutes of real time to play out, as penalties on both teams kept moving the ball between snaps. With 7 seconds to go, an offensive pass interference put Cassville at the Seneca 48-yard line, then a roughing the passer penalty on Seneca moved it up to the 38.
Cassville quarterback Deven Bates connected a pass to Jericho Farris for a first down, but the Wildcats could not get set in time to spike the ball with only 1 second on the clock.
Parnell said the key to the game and Cassville staying ahead would have been eliminating mistakes and playing more hard-nosed.
“They were more physical than we were tonight, and that’s hard for me to say,” Parnell said. “That was the difference in the ballgame.”
Bowen Preddy, who reeled in two catches for 41 yards, said being more physical in future games is a must.
“We were soft at the line, had some lineman and communication issues,” he said. “If we fix those, it’s a different ball game.”
Preddy added the team needed to play smarter in the second half of the season.
“We need to be smarter and think with our heads, not causing stupid penalties like unsportsmanlike conduct or blocks in the back,” he said. We just need to play smarter football.”
Cassville had nine penalties, totaling 85 yards, and Seneca had 10, totaling 125 yards. In its first three games combined, the Wildcats suffered 10 penalties, totaling 85 yards.
While the mood was somber after the game, Parnell said there were positives to be taken away.
“We fought,” he said. “We fought for four quarters, all the way to the last drive, scratching, clawing and trying to find a way. And we were just not able to pull one out tonight.”
Preddy said a loss like Friday’s will show the team’s character.
“We will have to learn to get back up and fight next week and push through it,” he said. “This is just a loss in the middle of the season, and there’s still a lot [of season] left.”
Parnell echoed the sentiment.
“How do you come back after a tough loss?” he said. “That’s going to be the million-dollar question this week.”
Offensively, Bates was 12-for-22 through the air for 172 yards, with one touchdown and one successful two-point conversion. White reeled in the touchdown catch. He tallied 106 yards on eight catches.
On the ground, Zach Coenen led the way with 22 carries for 84 yards and one score.
Drake Reese added two field goals to the score, one from 21 yards and a second from 43 yards.
Defensively, Carson Jacobsen led in tackles with 8 unassisted. Coenen added 6 unassisted and 3 assisted.
The Wildcats return for Homecoming this week, facing an East Newton team that won its first game Friday, a 35-8 victory over Nevada, since defeating Seneca 14-0 on Sept. 16, 2016.