When football was king in Nevada Part 4: Tougher times

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Editor's Note: This is the fourth installment in a series by Shane Cavanah, who was the head coach of the 1975 Nevada Tigers football team that was recently inducted into the Nevada High School Wall of Fame.

Game 4 Sept. 26, Carl Junction, Home

With Duane Belcher still feeling the effects of his injured ankle which allowed him to play only sporadically, we continued to use Larry Hillier at fullback most of the time and Charles Routledge at wingback.

The Carl Junction game proved to be the "coming-out" party for Routledge. After a sluggish and scoreless first quarter, Charles scored three times in the second period on touchdown runs of 29, 27, and 43 yards. Overall in the contest, he carried five times for 133 total yards and the three TDs. Rice added TD runs of 9 and 1 yards in the second quarter. Jimmy also returned the second half kickoff 81 yards for a third touchdown.

After the kickoff return by Rice to start the second half, the second and third units saw extensive playing time during the remainder of the game. Dan Ratts and Mike Shindler scored touchdowns in the half and Larry Wallace rushed for 106 yards on seven carries during that time. Jeff Walster and Ken DeVan also carried the ball for the Tigers in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, we were somewhat less-than-impressive as we allowed CJ to complete 28 passes for 160 yards and rush for another 50 yards. The Bulldogs did fumble five times in the contest with the Tigers recovering four of the Bulldogs' miscues.

We remained at No. 3 in the weekly poll and the same three teams were behind us, except that Chaminade and Jackson switched places at Nos. 4 and 5. John Wynne, of Webb City, was selected the Player of the Week. This caught our eye as we knew we would have to deal with this guy later on in the season.

Game 5 Oct. 2 Monett, Home (Homecoming)

I soon figured out that because of our previous successes this year and because of our reputation of previous years, we always received the best effort any of our opponents could muster. No one looked past us, we received their best shot! The Monett Cubs were no exception. They had opened the season with two losses, but had put together two impressive wins against Cassville and Carthage prior to their appearance at Logan Field. Coach Benny Lawson had his team prepared. We had noticed Monett scouts at our two previous games and knew they probably had films of our two games before that.

The game proved to be a defensive struggle from beginning to end. It pitted Nevada's overall strength up against Monett's lightning-like quickness. The game statistics favored the Tigers as Nevada out-rushed the Cubs 210 yards to 103. And, Nevada won the passing yardage contest 62 to 34.

Nevada received 45 yards in penalties to 15 yards for the visitors. Nevada ran 54 offensive plays to 47 for Monett. The Tigers fumbled twice in the contest and lost both of them while Monett fumbled twice, but recovered them both.

Duane Belcher, closer to being 100 percent in his recovery from his ankle injury, led the Tigers in rushing with 98 yards on 12 carries. Jimmy Rice contributed 73 yards on 19 attempts. Defensively, Jack McAdoo's name appeared often in the account of the game, along with Carl Steffan and John Nichols. Doug Keithly had his best game of the young season against the Cubs.

Nevada found the end zone first in the contest, scoring on a pass from Jimmy Rice to Bill Jones from 5 yards out on the halfback option. Jones' PAT attempt was blocked, but Monett was penalized for being offsides. With the ball placed at the 1/2-yard line rather than the 3, I decided to go for a two-point conversion attempt instead of kicking it again for the conventional one-point. It would prove later on to have been the right decision. Rice ran the two-point conversion attempt to give our Tigers an 8-0 lead with 6:37 remaining in the first quarter.

Monett would answer with a touchdown of their own early in the second quarter as they ran the ball into the end zone from 8 yards out with 10:34 remaining in the first half. Trailing 8-6, Monett chose to kick the extra-point. The kick was good to make the score read Nevada 8, Monett 7. Little did anyone realize at the time that this would also be the final score.

The second half was a defensive struggle throughout the entire two quarters. Neither team could dent the other team's goal line. Both teams experienced untimely turnovers and what offensive movement took place happened between the 30-yard stripes.

To this day, I have never figured out why Coach Lawson chose to kick the PAT rather than go for two points to tie the game. If the kick is successful, he would still be behind by a single point. I've had several visits with Benny in later years, but never did get around to asking him what his reasoning was for that decision to kick instead of going for a two-point conversion.

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