WEBB CITY — A couple main facts seem most pertinent to Webb City’s 41-0 win over Neosho on Friday night at Cardinal Stadium.
1) Neosho seemed to start every offensive possession deep in its own territory and compounded its difficulties with penalties, turnovers, and special team miscues.
2) Webb City — the defending Class 4 state champions — seemed to start every offensive possession deep in Neosho territory and capitalized on short fields with consecutive touchdowns on its first six possessions.
On just the second play from scrimmage, Neosho was called for a false start and the penalty moved the Wildcats back into a second-and-long which then became a third-and-long and an early punt. Senior punter Mason Ray’s tough night began with a kick that went out-of-bounds at the Webb City 35 after only a 10-yard flight.
Webb City quickly went to work and star junior running back Durand Henderson scored on a 5-yard run for the game’s first points only 4 minutes, 41 seconds in.
On the Wildcats’ second possession, junior quarterback Gage Kelley and senior tight end Tre Letts connected on a 29-yard pass out to the Neosho 43. For the first time, Neosho moved into Webb City territory after a Kelley 4-yard run and a Drayke Perry 5-yard run. Faced with a fourth-and-1 near midfield, Neosho decided to punt and a low snap to Ray contributed in Webb City taking over possession at the Neosho 39.
Ray’s knee touched down as he fielded the low snap.
Webb City sophomore Devrin Weathers, the other half of the Dynamic Ds for the Cardinals, capped off another short field drive with a 5-yard run at 2:48 of the first.
Neosho’s third drive produced a three-and-out and Ray’s punt resulted in Webb City taking over in its own territory for the first time.
Not that it mattered, ultimately, because Weathers broke an 8-yard run on a third-and-3 and junior quarterback Kade Hicks, filling in for injured senior Cade Beason, hit tight end Jacob Monroe for a 37-yard pass down to the Neosho 10. On a fourth-and-goal, explosive receiver Terrell Kabala scored on a 6-yard run.
You might remember Kabala’s sophomore football (and basketball) season came to an end with a knee injury last season against Neosho at Bob Anderson Stadium.
Neosho’s fourth drive began at its own 17, but Cade Lyerla found breathing room out to the 30 on a 13-yard run on the first play. In a second-and-long situation, Kelley gained 14 yards to produce a third-and-short situation near midfield, but another promising Neosho drive stalled out after a fumble on third down and then a fake punt snuffed out by Webb City on fourth.
Once again, Webb City capitalized on a short field and the Cardinals hit Alex Gaskill for a 30-yard strike and a 27-0 lead.
Neosho’s fifth drive of the first half started like the four before it, deep in its own territory, and featured a pair of first downs before time expired in the half.
On the second play from scrimmage after halftime, Weathers nearly broke a 61-yard touchdown run and the only thing coming between him and the big score was Neosho senior linebacker Letts, who showed his speed earlier this season with that long fumble return for a touchdown against Ozark.
Two plays later, however, Webb City made it 34-0 on a Henderson 8-yard run only 1:51 after halftime.
Neosho’s first second half and sixth overall possession ended in disaster, with Ray tackled at the Neosho 10, setting up the Cardinals for a first-and-goal.
Two plays later, Hicks scored on a 6-yard run and the Cardinals’ six possession scoring spree produced a 41-0 advantage and the eventual final score.
The majority of the second half was played in turbo clock mode.
Webb City, 3-0 overall and 3-0 Central Ozark Conference, traded places with Neosho in the Class 4, District 6 standings. The Cardinals next travel to Branson.
Neosho, 2-1 overall and conference, returns home to face unbeaten Carthage. The Tigers earned an impressive 35-14 win over Class 6 Joplin at their home Haffner Stadium on Friday.
Friday’s Neosho and Webb City game was also notable for a lightning delay that pushed the opening kickoff back 30 minutes to 7:30 p.m. and the fact Webb City decided to call for a moment of silence before the game for Benton Elementary kindergarten teacher and crosswalk guard Angel Hayes, who died Wednesday in the school’s parents’ pick-up lane after a SUV struck her and trapped her underneath the vehicle.