Tigers caught in a Webb
By Joe Warren
When the Nevada Tigers squared off with the Webb City Cardinals Friday night, the results were not pretty.
The Tigers learned exactly why the Cardinals are the state's top-ranked team in Class 4.
Final score -- 70-6.
Webb City (4-0) built a 57-6 halftime lead, taking advantage of some Tigers (2-2) miscues and exploiting an obvious strength advantage in the process.
It was domination in almost every sense of the word.
Webb City scored on their first 10 possessions. They even scored on one of Nevada's possessions.
By the time Nevada registered a defensive stop, the game was half-way through the fourth quarter and both teams had their second and third-string players on the field.
Webb City racked up 558 yards of total offense, with 384 of those yards coming in the first half.
Throughout the game they had 384 yards rushing.
That does not include the punt return for a score, or the safety, or the blocked punt recovered on the Nevada 14-yard line setting up another touchdown.
Webb City did not turn the ball over. Counting the blocked punt, Nevada turned it over four times and had a punt snap dropped in the end zone that rolled out for a safety.
Even if the Tigers had not turned the ball over, it would have been hard for Nevada to win the game.
Up front the Webb City lines were just physically stronger than Nevada's.
It was particularly true on the offensive side of the ball, where Webb City had 199 yards rushing in the first half (while the starters were on the field), on 20 carries. That is almost an average of 10 yards per carry.
Many times it was at least five yards before Nevada defenders even touched the Webb City ball carrier.
Even so, Nevada did show a few flashes during the game. It was not as if the Tigers rolled over and died.
In fact, Nevada started out looking good.
The Tigers received the ball to start the game, and were putting together what amounted to their best drive of the night.
Despite miscommunication on the kickoff return and starting at their own 13-yard line, Nevada was able to drive to the Webb City 40 before things started going badly.
On the second play from scrimmage, quarterback Justin Reed hit fullback Keith Overton for a 36-yard pass play. Overton had gotten a step on the Webb City defender to get open and Reed hit him with the pass.
Then Reed hit Nate Uttinger for a gain of six yards to the Webb City 45.
An Overton run for three yards and a quarterback sneak for two yards by Reed gave Nevada another first down at the Cardinals 40.
After an incomplete pass, Reed hit receiver Willie Bailey on a short hook pattern and Bailey caught it for what would have been about a four-yard gain, but when Bailey was hit, the ball came loose and Webb City recovered.
Six plays later the Cardinals took a 7-0 lead on an 11-yard scoring run.
The second time Nevada got the ball they looked to be driving again.
Passes to Bailey and tight end Eric Atkinson netted a first down.
A pass to receiver Nate Uttinger gained nine yards before a shotgun snap went over Reed's head and resulted in a 19-yard loss.
The ensuing punt was blocked and Webb City scored on their first offensive play on a 14-yard run.
From there the route was on.
Nevada did get a little spark toward the end of the first quarter. Already trailing 30-0, Reed hit tight end Ben Wilson for a 73-yard touchdown pass, but that was the extent of Nevada's offensive success.
The pass was perfect on the score, and so was Wilson's seam route and over-the-shoulder catch. It was a play the Tigers had open in each of the first three games this season, but were unable to execute.
In all, Nevada did have 188 yards of offense, so it was not like the team played ineptly.
Webb City was just that good.
"We have to continue to play hard," Nevada coach John Skeans said after the game. "The sun's going to come up tomorrow."
Skeans said the most important thing was that the team should learn from their mistakes and put this game behind them.
"I think we're going in the right direction," Skeans said of the program overall. "We just have to continue to focus on what we can do to be successful."
Lucky for the Tigers, there are no more Webb City's on the schedule.
Nevada has homecoming this week, they host Carthage on Friday.