Smashmouthing way to semifinals
Cassville muscles past No. 1 ranked Blair Oaks
WARDSVILLE — Stock up the concession stand and fire up the lights because a Class 3 semifinal football is coming to Cassville next Saturday after the Wildcats knocked off Blair Oaks, the No. 1 ranked team in Missouri on Saturday, 35-28.
Cassville will host Trinity Catholic, the defending Class 3 state champion. A start time has not been determined.
After squandering a 27-7 advantage just 15 seconds into the third quarter, when Bowen Preddy took the kickoff back 85 yards to the house, Cassville was on its heels as the Falcons ripped off 14 points in a 6:43 span, with quarterback Dylan Hair rumbling for scoring runs of 10 and 9 yards.
Outside of the kickoff return, the Wildcats had struggled to get anything going in the second half offensively. In fact, its first three drives netted just one first down and an interception.
Cassville took over at its own 11-yard line with a precarious 27-20 lead with 11:13 left in the game. The Wildcats ground out a pair of first downs, but faced a third-and-5 at the 40. The team turned to its speedy senior, Bowen Preddy, who blew through a hole and traveled 60 yards to the end zone for a 35-21 edge with 6:01 left in the game. Hair pulled the Falcons back within 35-28 with 4:04 left in the game, but Preddy, Zach Coenen and the Wildcats’ offensive line took over the game, picking up three first downs and facing just one third-and-short situation to run out the clock.
The Wildcats took a shot from the Falcons early, as Blair Oaks traveled 80 yards in just two plays with Jake Closser hauling in a 37-yard pass to give the home team a 7-0 lead a mere 28 seconds into regulation.
Cassville was not phased and veered its way 61 yards in nine plays, with Zach Coenen getting the payoff in the form of a 2-yard scoring run with 7:04 remaining in the opening stanza. The Wildcats’ defense bent on the next Falcon drive, but did not break, as it forced a punt after Blair Oaks drove to the Cassville 40. Taking over at its 20, the Black and Gold used a one-two punch of Coenen and Preddy to soften up a stacked Blair Oaks front. Of its 12 plays on the drive, only two were run outside of the tackle.
Preddy gave the Wildcats the lead with a 12-yard score with 9:37 left in the second quarter.
After another Falcons punt, Cassville set up shop at its 19 with 7:44 remaining until intermission. The Wildcats probed the middle of the line and faced a third-and-9 at its own 47. Deven Bates lofted a pass down the sideline for which D.J. White adjusted and came back to make a 35-yard reception. Three plays later, Bates scored from a yard out with 21.8 seconds left in the half to raise the score to 20-7.