Nevada falls to Cassville in Homecoming game, 41-6

Monday, April 5, 2010

By Eric Wade


NEVADA, Mo. -- The Nevada Tigers varsity football team celebrated their Homecoming at Logan Field Friday night with their toughest challenge of the year as they squared off against the Wildcats of Cassville.

The Wildcats came into the 2009 season as the defending Class 3 state champions and still maintained a top-five ranking in the Missouri prep football midseason polls. The Wildcats came into the season's sixth game with a 4-1 record, almost entirely unchallenged in their previous four games.

Cassville's lone loss came in the opening week of the season as they fell to Branson in a very one-sided contest by a final score of 42-13. From that point on, head coach David Large's Wildcats have enjoyed a relatively easy schedule, winning their closest game of the year in week two by 16 points.

The Tigers, on the other hand, came into Friday's action having split their previous two games, both of which were decided by a combined total to eight points.

In each of those two games, the Tigers made up a 15-point deficit to tie or take the lead, before falling to Pleasant Hill on the last play of the game and beating Parsons in nearly the same fashion.

Head coach Jay Fleeman's Tigers entered Friday's contest as a much-improved team over the one Cassville beat 43-6 last year and were looking to avenge that loss while, at the same time, earning their first home victory of the year. Friday's contest was much the same as last year, however, as the Wildcats rolled their way to a 41-6 victory.

"We've just got to play better, that's the whole deal of it," Fleeman said. "They are a very good football team, but we just did not play very well tonight and that's all there is to it."

The Tigers' offense struggled early, unable to find a way around the strong pressure from Cassville's defensive line. A quick three-and-out looked as though it may give the Wildcats good field position to start their first drive, but a blocked punt quickly changed all that.

Cassville was able to fall on the ball in the end zone, quickly opening up a 7-0 lead with 10:59 to go in the first quarter. The Tigers responded well, mounting a 14-play, 58-yard drive before turning the ball over on downs at the Cassville 20.

The Wildcats' needed just three plays to add to their lead once again as their potent running game took over. The Tigers couldn't seem to find an answer for Cassville's strong inside run, allowing sophomore Trevor Tanner to take a 65-yard run right through the center of the Tigers' defense, giving the Wildcats a 14-0 lead with 2:15 to go in the first quarter.

The Wildcats' offense continued to have its way with the Tigers through the midpoint of the half until a costly fumble by Josh Lewright gave Nevada their first takeaway of the game. The Tigers were unable to take advantage and quickly gave the ball back to Cassville with good field position after just three plays.

The Wildcats had just a 35-yard field to cover and did so with near effortless efficiency, taking their yardage in small chunks, eventually capping off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Joseph Gouvion to make it 21-0 with 4:43 to go in the half.

Gouvion added his second touchdown of the day just 4 minutes, 28 seconds later to extend Cassville's lead once again to 28-0. That lead held for the final two plays of the half and the Wildcats found themselves heading to the locker room with a 28-point lead.

The Tigers moved the ball down the field in spurts throughout the entire duration of the first half, but were unable to cash in as the Wildcats' defense always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. The Wildcats didn't have as statistically dominant a half as the score might imply as they had 174 yards of total offense -- 155 on the ground -- while Nevada put up 106.

The Tigers had a much more balanced offensive showing, running the ball for 61 yards while adding 45 through the air. The major thorn in the Tigers' side in the first half was turnovers, however, as Baldwin threw two interceptions -- both of which put a stop to strong drives.

The Tigers' defense looked as though they may be able to make a recovery early in the second half, putting a fairly quick stop to their initial drive. That didn't last long, however, as the Wildcats' stifling defense forced the third Nevada turnover of the game, giving their offense a very short field.

A fumble on an attempted pitch to Jordan Herren gave the Wildcats the ball back at the Nevada 15-yard line and they wasted little time cover that short distance as Gouvion took a short run up the middle for his third touchdown of the night. A missed extra-point gave the Wildcats a 34-0 lead with 4:52 to go in the third quarter.

Turnovers continued to be a major course of issue for the Tigers in the second half as Cassville's Chris Smith picked up his first interception of the game. The Wildcats needed just one play to convert that turnover into more points as Zach Vititoe took the ball 61 yards for his first touchdown of the game to make it 41-0 with just over 3 minutes to go in the third.

The running clock made the second half go by quickly as neither team really had much of a chance to get any kind of offense going. The Tigers ultimately finished the game with a strong drive, methodically marching down the field to score with 52 seconds to go on a 25-yard pass from Baldwin to Tyler Dobson.

"We did some things at the end of the game," Fleeman said. "We did a few things here and there throughout the game, we just did not do a good job of sustaining drives on offense."

Baldwin ultimately missed the extra-point kick, but the Tigers were still able to avoid their first shutout of the year as the Wildcats took a 41-6 victory.

With that loss, the Tigers fall to 3-3 overall on the year and remain winless at home. The Tigers are set to head back out on the road next Friday night in search of their fourth win of the year as they take on the McDonald County Mustangs in Anderson, Mo.

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