A tale of two halves: Turnovers mar second half collapse as Mountaineers prevail over Nevada, 48-16
For a second consecutive week the Nevada Tigers were their own worst enemy.
Hosting Big 8 Conference cross-division foe Mount Vernon Mountaineers, the No. 4 ranked team in Missouri Class 3 football, Nevada trailed 22-16 late in the first half. From that point, however, they were outscored 26-0, accounting for the final 48-16 margin Friday night at Logan Field.
A fumble on Nevada’s opening drive was recovered by reigning Class 3 Defensive Player of the Year Will Boswell.
On their first play from scrimmage Mount Vernon dipped into its bag of tricks and pulled out a halfback option pass, resulting in a 77-yard touchdown toss from Boswell to Cale Miller. The errant extra point attempt left the Mountaineers with a 6-0 advantage.
Late in the first quarter Nevada sophomore tailback Kaden Denney took a handoff, cut back inside, and made several defenders miss before cutting to the left sideline en route to a 64-yard touchdown scamper.
Matt Thorp punched in the two-point attempt on a quarterback keeper, and the Tigers led 8-6.
Nevada then had several golden opportunities to extend their lead. The first came when strong safety Justin Guy picked off Mount Vernon quarterback Zach Jones and returned the errant pass to the Mountaineer 18-yard line.
The Tigers, however, netted only three yards on the drive, turning the ball over on downs. Nevada continued to put the ball on the ground, as a Mount Vernon fumble recovery near the midpoint of the second quarter had the Mountaineers setting up shop in Nevada territory.
Several plays later Carson Bowman found paydirt on a 21-yard run down the right sideline. Jones then connected to a leaping Miller in the right corner of the endzone to complete the successful two-point play, handing Mount Vernon a 14-8 advantage.
Mount Vernon then quickly extended its lead to 22-8, and it looked like the Mountaineers might put the game away in the first half. The Tigers, however, came up with a key blocked punt, recovering deep in Mountaineer territory. Two plays later senior tailback Jaren Powrie went off-tackle for a 12-yard touchdown run. Sophomore running back Ty Thomas plunged in from two yards out on the two-point conversion as Nevada trailed 22-16 with 4:02 remaining in the half.
The game’s turning point came on the ensuing possession, as Mount Vernon drove deep into Tiger territory. Facing a fourth-and 3, Mount Vernon converted, with a yardage measurement narrowly confirming the first down. Two plays later Jones dropped back and hit wide out Kelly Vaughn for an 18-yard touchdown strike down the right sideline. A failed point after left Mount Vernon up 28-16 at the half.
Things continued to unravel for Nevada in the second half, as a short Boswell touchdown run midway through the third swelled the lead to 34-16.
Mount Vernon later appeared to come up with a safety, but it turned out they had recovered a fumble in Nevada’s endzone resulting in a touchdown and a 40-16 lead.
Early in the fourth quarterback Thorp, also the punter, was injured on a blocked punt, and did not return to the game.
Mount Vernon’s Justin Maples added the final touchdown, going in on a seven-yard jet sweep late in the fourth.
“I think we’re just gradually getting in better shape,” began Nevada head coach Wes Beachler on his postgame radio interview with KNEM/KNMO’s Mark Harbit. “And we just don’t have any depth to get people in-and-out. So once again, the first half was a good ball-game.”
Added Beachler” “We’re facing a team that’s running kids in-and-out of the game, and getting kids some rest, and we just can’t do that.”
On the postgame show Beachler lamented missed opportunities, including a dropped pass first half pass that would have gone for a huge gain.
“We had an opportunity to be ahead by about 10 at halftime, if we just get some things taken care of,” said the veteran coach. “So catch a few more balls, hang on to a few more balls, get more tackles and it’s an interesting game. A couple plays here and there, and it’s an entirely different first half. We didn’t make plays when we had to, we didn’t get stops when we had to, and those are things we need to clean up.”
Beachler said depth concerns will be a factor for the remainder of the season.
“We knew coming into the season we were not going to have any depth,” he said. “We just don’t. It is what it is. We knew were going to have to take care of the football. Depth has been an issue, and taking care of the ball has been an issue.”
Beachler said his squad hung tough early against a strong opponent.
“This is the state runner-up from last year, they were the fourth-ranked team in state coming in — they’re a good football team, and we were right there. We just have to get some things ironed out, we had a couple injuries tonight, and those are some things we’ll have to evaluate next week. When we lose a kid here or there, we’re just deeper into lack of depth. We have to evaluate those injuries, and if they’re extensive and cost kids some playing time next week, we have to make those adjustments and move forward.”
Beachler then discussed Thorp’s injury. “He got landed on kind of funny on the blocked punt. Ty Thomas would be the quarterback next week if it goes that far. Of course, I don’t know anything about that right now, so it’s hard to elaborate on that.”
The Tigers square off with Big 8 West division foe Seneca, Sept. 7. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.