The play that pretty much summed up Friday’s game at Nixa High School occurred when the Eagles gained possession at the end of the first half on Neosho’s 20-yard line.
NIXA — The play that pretty much summed up Friday’s game at Nixa High School occurred when the Eagles gained possession at the end of the first half on Neosho’s 20-yard line.
After recovering a fumble on the 20 with 20 seconds left in the half, the Eagles, rather than trying to score, kneeled the ball and let the clock run out. They jogged to the locker room with a 41-0 halftime lead and went on to win the game by that same tally.
The Wildcats (0-6, 0-4 Central Ozark Conference Large Division) started strong on their first drive, but things soured in a hurry. After receiving the opening kick, the Wildcats put together a 14 play drive that saw them matriculate the ball to the Eagles’ 28. There, on third-and-four, the Wildcats attempted their first pass, but Nixa defensive back Christian Witt snared the errant throw at the seven-yard line.
The Eagles (5-1, 3-1) then marched 93 yards and scored on a 19-yard pass from Austin Schweiss to Jeremy Tourville to make it 7-0, Eagles. That knocked the Wildcats on their heels, but probably not as much as they were after their next possession.
After starting their second possession at their own 19, a false start on fourth down pinned the Wildcats at their own 13 and set up a fourth-and-16.
Then things got interesting. Lined up in punt formation the Wildcats tried to be tricky — a little too tricky, perhaps. A last second formation shift tried to catch the Eagles napping, and the ball was snapped to sophomore Nathan Moser, who faked a pass before tucking the ball in an attempt to run for the first down. But the Eagles sniffed it out and dragged Moser down after a six-yard gain.
That failed play pinned the Wildcats’ defense at the 19 and pinned the ears back on Nixa’s offense. They went into full attack mode and scored two plays later on a 10 yard scamper by Schweiss to make it 13-0.
Scoring seemed like a cakewalk for the Eagles after that. A team with good size and athleticism across the board, they showed why they’re one of the top 25 teams in the state by scoring on each of their next four possessions to make it 41-0.
Perhaps even more impressive than the scores themselves was the amount of time it took to get them. Four of those final five possessions had scoring drives that lasted three, one, two, and one play each. That’s four touchdowns in the span of seven plays.
With both starting fullbacks injured the Wildcats incorporated their flexbone offense against the Eagles. It didn’t appear the Eagles were prepared for it on the first drive, but made quick adjustments to slow the Wildcats. Their defense, by the way, hadn’t allowed a touchdown this season until last week’s loss to Webb City.
“We knew in the offseason we were going to go to the flexbone,” Wildcats coach Jared Schoonover said. “We decided as a staff that, with both fullbacks injured, that this would be a good opportunity for us just to go forward and use this last month to get better (with) the offense we’re going with.
“We knew going in that they were going to be a stout defense. We feel like we moved the ball efficiently against them, and it wasn’t just for one drive. Throughout the game we just shot ourselves in the foot.”
Justin McKee carried the ball 22 times for 88 yards to lead the Wildcats offensively. Chris Goodwin carried eight times for 35 yards, and Ryan Taylor had nine rushes for 37.
“I saw a lot of positive things,” Schoonover said. “There was some momentum that was taken off a turnover, but defensively we have to find ways to make plays and get off the football field. I think in the second half I was pleased with the kids’ heart.”
Then Schoonover offered some clarification.
“Obviously the score is not what I’m talking about as in positive,” he said. “We knew going into this game we were overmatched, especially with the injuries. We have three starters out and all three start on both sides of the football. I was very pleased with the effort.”
The Wildcats have another tough COC game next week. They travel to Webb City on Friday.