Turnovers and penalties derailed the Neosho Wildcats from winning both their first game of the season and their home opener Friday night against the Willard Tigers at Bob Anderson Stadium.

Turnovers and penalties derailed the Neosho Wildcats from winning both their first game of the season and their home opener Friday night against the Willard Tigers at Bob Anderson Stadium.
Neosho turned it over three straight possessions to start the second half and earlier fumbled on its promising opening drive during a 19-7 defeat.
Neosho — 0-3 overall, 0-3 Central Ozark Conference Large — returns home this Friday to host Carl Junction, who defeated Ozark 35-14 to improve to 2-1 overall and COC Large. Keep in mind that Ozark dominated Neosho just a couple weeks ago.
Choosing possession first for the second week in a row, the Wildcats came out impressively on their first possession and methodically moved the ball down to the Willard 3-yard line, driving 77 yards in 10 plays, all running plays. Senior running back James Renfro took eight of those carries and generated four first downs, highlighted by a couple defender-clearing hurdles and one stiff-arm.
Ultimately, though, Neosho fumbled on the 11th play and Willard took over at their own 7.
If Neosho’s first drive was the “James Renfro Show,” Willard’s was the “Kenny Chambers Show,” as the athletic and acrobatic receiver caught three passes on the drive, including a 43-yard touchdown strike from Quincy Batson. At times, Neosho had no answer for Chambers.
Early in the second quarter, Batson forced a deep ball to Chambers, covered by Jarvis Funk with help from Donnie Fox. Fox intercepted the pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back on a block in the back and an unsportsmanlike conduct.
Neosho took over possession at their own 40 and again methodically began moving the ball against the Willard defense. On a third-and-3, Funk broke wide open for a 24-yard TD run. Bret Camerer made the extra point and we had ourselves a tie game with 4 minutes, 39 seconds before halftime.
Willard burned the last 4:39 off the clock, but came out with no points and a 7-all halftime score. The Tigers moved the ball down to the Neosho 8 and faced a fourth-and-goal. Willard called on senior kicker Brayden Swearengin — who booted every kickoff into the end zone — for a 25-yard field goal and he missed it just wide right.
This was big, since Willard took possession first in the second half.
After forcing Willard to punt, Neosho found success running the football on its first drive of the second half, looking just like that opening drive, with back-to-back 12-yard runs by Renfro. But, just like that opening drive, it came to an end with a fumble … and, like before, Willard responded with points.
Batson culminated a 9-play, 52-yard drive with a 14-yard run and the Wildcats helped out with a 15-yard personal foul penalty on a horse collar on Willard’s first play of the drive. Willard led 13-7 with 6:49 left in the third.
Neosho’s second drive of the second half produced a fumble on the third play.
Willard took over possession only 29 yards away from the end zone, but Funk came up with a pass breakup near the end zone on a fourth-and-5 at the 24.
On Neosho’s third possession, Chambers intercepted Gavin Kelley’s pass … once again, a turnover on the third play of the drive.
The Tigers once again helped out Neosho with their own mistakes. For example, a third-and-10 from the Neosho 11 early in the fourth quarter turned into a third-and-41 from the Neosho 42 after a pair of 15-yard penalties. Willard gained 21 yards back on third down, setting up Swearengin for a 38-yard attempt. He missed wide right. Willard led 13-7 with 7:41 remaining in the contest.
Neosho avoided a fumble or an interception on their fourth possession. Ultimately, however, Kelley’s pass to Connor McGehee on a fourth-and-11 from the Willard 37 fell incomplete and Willard sealed the deal on its first conference win with a Garrett Rice 50-yard backbreaking run.