OZARK — The Ozark Tigers fumbled away their first possession of the game, but the Tigers scored points on their next six possessions — five touchdowns, one field goal — to earn a 38-7 win Friday night over the Neosho Wildcats at Tiger Stadium.

OZARK — The Ozark Tigers fumbled away their first possession of the game, but the Tigers scored points on their next six possessions — five touchdowns, one field goal — to earn a 38-7 win Friday night over the Neosho Wildcats at Tiger Stadium.
Senior quarterback Danny Carr connected with junior receiver Trent Riggs on a pair of scoring passes (27 and 24 yards), senior running back Nathaniel Burlage ran for a 11-yard touchdown and had a 65-yard TD run called back on an illegal block in the back, senior Chandler Doss kicked a 36-yard field goal right before halftime, senior Preston Carson scored on a 3-yard run, and senior Tristen Moreno ran in from six yards with 8 minutes, 51 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Tigers definitely showed why they were ranked No. 9 in Class 5 entering Friday night.
Neosho broke the string of 38 unanswered by Ozark with sophomore Gage Kelley’s first varsity touchdown on a 8-yard run with 18.9 seconds remaining in the contest.
Neosho — 0-2 overall, 0-2 Central Ozark Conference Large — returns home Friday for its home opener at Bob Anderson Stadium. The Wildcats will take on Willard, who come into Friday with a 1-1 mark after a 28-24 win over Bolivar in Week 2.
Ozark improved to 2-0 overall, 2-0 COC Large and the Tigers hit the road Friday to face the Carl Junction Bulldogs, who evened their record at 1-1 both overall and conference with their 39-0 win Friday night on the road against Republic.
The Wildcats won the coin toss and decided to take first possession offensively. On their first drive, the Wildcats gained one first down, but eventually stalled out.
Ozark fumbled on its third offensive play from scrimmage and Neosho senior Jarvis Funk gashed the Tigers for a 11-yard run down to the Ozark 30.
A promising drive and a chance for the Wildcats to take the early lead came unglued on the next play, as a holding penalty moved the Wildcats back 13 yards.
Kelley gained eight yards back on a run, but the Tigers stood up Adrian Hitchcock for a yard loss on second down, forced Kelley into scramble mode on third down for only two yards, and the Tigers sacked Kelley on fourth down.
On the Tigers’ subsequent possession, Carson broke free for a 24-yard run down to the Neosho 26. Sophomore linebacker Sam Cook sacked Carr for a 5-yard loss, forcing Ozark into a fourth-and-11.
Carr hit Riggs and the 5-foot-11, 170-pound receiver did the rest, showing his speed and skills for the first time Friday night on a play down the Neosho sideline for a 27-yard touchdown.
Neosho added insult to injury on the play as a 15-yard personal foul penalty for a horse collar was assessed on the kickoff.
Funk’s 11-yard run on first down gave the Wildcats a first down on their third drive and Hitchcock gained seven yards on the second play, but the Tigers stood up Funk and Kelley for one-yard gains and Neosho punted away.
The Tigers mixed ball carriers Sandoval and Carr — who handled the option well all night — on their third possession and Riggs made a key play on the only pass play of this drive, a catch and a quick spin move gained eight yards on a second-and-6 at the Neosho 19. Two plays later, Burlage scored his 11-yard TD.
Neosho again looked promising for a couple early plays on its fourth possession. Gavin Kelley and Hitchcock barreled ahead for 14 yards on consecutive plays, but then miscues and mistakes proved costly for the young Wildcats. A fumble cost the Wildcats six yards and then Ozark sacked Kelley for three more lost yards. James Renfro managed to gain nine yards back on third down, but the Wildcats again punted away.
On the first play of the Tigers’ subsequent drive, Burlage busted loose on a 52-yard run. An offside penalty then gave Ozark a first-and-goal and three plays later, Carson scored on a 3-yard run.
On the third play of Neosho’s final possession of the first half, Ozark junior linebacker Logan Emmerth — listed No. 50 on the program but wearing No. 48 Friday night — intercepted Kelley and returned it into Ozark territory. An illegal block moved Ozark back to the Neosho 41, negating Emmerth’s return down to the Neosho 10.
However, Carr hit Danielson on a 27-yard pass and catch, a play that more or less set up Doss for his field goal to end the half. Ozark led 24-0 at halftime.
Taking possession first in the second half, Ozark made it a 31-0 game with 7:48 remaining in the third with Riggs’ second TD reception. A coverage breakdown left Riggs wide open and Carr hit No. 3 in stride for a no-doubt touchdown. Other key plays on the drive included a Carson 9-yard run, a Burlage 27-yard run, and a Danielson 13-yard catch that set up Carr for a 4-yard run on a fourth-and-2 at the Neosho 19.
Emmerth’s sack of Kelley on Neosho’s first drive of the second half derailed that one.
The Tigers took over possession next with 4:07 left in the third and Moreno scored Ozark’s final points on a 6-yard scamper with 8:51 remaining in the game.
On the final possession of the game for Neosho, the Wildcats mixed in their veterans and some younger players, with Cade Lyerla and Donnie Fox combining for three first-down runs, all setting up Gage Kelley’s 8-yard TD run.
Ozark beat Neosho for the first time in three tries — Neosho’s previous two wins came at Bob Anderson Stadium, in the final game of the 2015 regular season and in the second game last season.

Around the COC
— Webb City 28, Carthage 7
The Cardinals improved to 2-0 on the season, defeating rivals Carl Junction and Carthage in consecutive weeks, and Webb City’s defense has pitched shutouts in the second half both weeks. Cash Link connected with Alex Gaskill and Treyton Simmons on TD passes and the Cardinals also scored on a pair of TD runs.
— Carl Junction 39, Republic 0
Former Neosho head coach Dustin Baldwin must have had a few flashbacks to a game last season against Carl Junction at Bulldog Stadium, a night when the Westons of Carl Junction dominated Neosho. Carl Junction running back Rayquion Weston, one of the premier backs in the COC, gashed Republic for four scores Friday night.
— Nixa 21, Branson 19
The Eagles eeked out a two-point win Friday night, as the Eagles blocked Branson kicker Justice Webber’s potential game-winning 33-yard attempt in the waning moments. Justice served. Nixa erased a 13-7 halftime deficit with a pair of scores and Branson running back Kyle Hunn closed out the scoring with a TD run with 3:48 left in the third.
— Willard 28, Bolivar 24
Willard’s Reece Dawson scored four touchdowns on the night and his fourth overall and third on the ground put the Tigers up for good with 4:20 remaining in the contest. Bolivar took a 24-14 lead into the fourth quarter. At one point in the second quarter, the Liberators led 17-0.