The Neosho Wildcats dropped to 1-4 on the season with a 20-6 loss Friday night against Nixa at historic Bob Anderson Stadium.
The Wildcats have lost three straight games headed into their Week 6 game against unbeaten Joplin, who defeated Branson 48-7 in Week 5. The Eagles have racked up 230 points this season — scoring at least 35 points in every game — while the Wildcats have produced 40 all season with one game more than seven points.
Nixa improved to 2-3 and the Eagles return home to welcome Carl Junction in Week 6.
Poor starts continue to haunt Neosho
Webb City, Carthage, and Nixa outscored Neosho 69-0 in the first half (Webb City 21-0, Carthage 42-0, Nixa 6-0) during the Wildcats’ losing streak.
In 17 first half possessions the last three games, Neosho managed a grand total of four first downs with one against Webb City, two against Carthage, and one against Nixa.
The Wildcats went seven quarters without a point — scoring their only points in the fourth quarter against Webb City and then their only points in the fourth against Nixa.
Nixa seems to grow kickers on trees
The Eagles have enjoyed a run of great high school kickers over the years — recently indefinitely suspended Florida State senior punter Logan Tyler chief among them.
Neosho (or Nixa) fans will never forget Sean Sample’s 50-yard field goal against the Wildcats all the way back in 2016.
On Friday night, Nixa senior kicker and punter Andrew Anello proved a vital player, transcending his being listed at 5-foot-7, 140 pounds.
Anello kicked 23- and 27-yard field goals for the only points of the first half and Neosho 6-foot-6 senior Sam Cook blocked Anello’s earlier attempt in the first quarter.
In the second half, Anello pooched a pair of kickoffs recovered by the Eagles.
There was also the controversial play late in the third quarter — arguably the longest 38.7 seconds ever in the history of sports.
Nixa apparently recovered a Neosho fumble on an Anello punt, deep inside Neosho territory. The Eagles first thought they had scored a touchdown, then believed they took over possession at the Neosho 10.
The officiating crew discussed it and deliberated and discussed it again and deliberated and discussed it once again, before determining that an inadvertent whistle rendered the play to have never happened.
Anello kicked again and he came away with a 52-yard punt downed at the Neosho 5.
Neosho’s late score snaps scoreless streak
As mentioned earlier, Neosho lasted seven quarters without a single point.
The Wildcats had one first down — on a Bret Camerer run — until their final possession Friday night when they put together a 10-play, 76-yard scoring drive in roughly 3:24. The Wildcats moved the chains four times on this final drive.
Neosho finally opened up its playbook and Cook’s 38-yard reception highlighted the drive. Other plays that moved the chains were Gage Kelley 13-yard and 12-yard runs and a Quincey Willis 12-yard run. Drayke Perry capped it off with a 1-yard TD run with 13.8 seconds remaining.
Prior to this drive, Neosho’s highlights were on defense or special teams, including Cook’s blocked field goal and Kelley’s 59-yard punt.
Three key Neosho players return to the lineup
Perry played his first game since his concussion in Week 2 at home against Branson, while Camerer and Willis played the first games of their senior year after serving four-game suspensions.
Unfortunately, for the Wildcats, defensive end Marcus Duncan left the game Friday night on a stretcher with a mild concussion.
Neosho pulls out all the stops for Homecoming
Before the game, Neosho honored its 1994 football and 2010 wrestling teams. The 2010 wrestling squad became the first boys team at Neosho to win a state championship and they started a run of eight state titles in 10 seasons for the wrestling program.
Destiny Colston won Homecoming Queen and Keaton Sanders escorted her.
PSU’s Murphy catches second career TD pass
Former Neosho High standout and Pittsburg State sophomore receiver Bryce Murphy caught a 23-yard touchdown pass during the Gorillas’ 37-14 victory Saturday over Nebraska-Kearney.
Murphy caught his first TD pass the previous week at home against Northeastern State.
Pitt State improved to 4-0 on the season and the Gorillas return to action in Week 5 at home against winless Lincoln, a team traditionally the door mat of the MIAA.