By Jordan Burton
Neosho, MO – Apparently, Neosho really wants another shot at Nixa…
The Wildcats put together one of their best defensive efforts of the season, holding Republic to just seven points, picking up a 35-7 win to advance to the Class 5 – District 5 semifinals Friday night in Neosho.
“I thought we did a good job; I’m really proud of our guys for holding them to seven points,” said Neosho coach Dustin Baldwin. “That is one of our best efforts of the season and we even had a goal line stand. We just have to keep getting better and we took a step in the right direction tonight.”
Neosho held the Tigers to just 135 rushing yards on 42 attempts – including nine rushes of zero or negative yards – with a front line led by senior Adrian Hitchcock setting the tone for the Wildcats defensively.
This helped Neosho overcome 12 penalties for 130 yards as a team.
Offensively, it was all about senior Coleman Scott.
The senior signal-called carved up the Tigers defense from start to finish, completing 17 of his 20 attempts for 232 yards and a touchdown. Scott also rushed for 59 yards and another touchdown, keeping Republic off balance with a steady dose of zone-read and quick hitters.
“He’s a great leader, a great kid and a super competitor,” said Baldwin. “He took care of the ball tonight and didn’t throw anything up for grabs. He was calm and collected in the pocket and had a great night.
While Bryce Murphy was again Scott’s favorite target (5 receptions for 77 yards), James Renfro continues to emerge as a playmaker.
The junior rushed for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just seven carries. He added 45 receiving yards as well.
Neosho scored on its first drive of the game, using a 12-play drive spanning nearly five minutes to take a 7-0 lead.
Republic then went three-and-out before a five-play Neosho drive ended in 33-yard Renfro TD run. The Cats led 21-0 late in the first half before a 13-play drive ended in a Devon Ward touchdown for the Tigers first score of the game.
After starting the second half with the ball, Republic went three-and-out on its first drive of the third quarter and failed to convert on its second drive of the half despite advancing into Neosho territory.
That failure to convert was a theme throughout Friday night… and Republic’s season – which has been marred by injuries and misfortune.
“Tonight was a microcosm of our season,” said Republic coach Wes Beachler. “It seems like all year when something could go wrong it did. We didn’t do a very good job of creating opportunities for ourselves and when we did move the ball and have good moments we’d have a bad snap or a penalty. This year we just weren’t able to overcome the adversity.”
This group continued to work hard in practice and battle in games, but sometimes you need a little luck and a few breaks to make a run. It didn’t happen for us. We will continue to work hard – work ethic has never been an issue – and we will build off that.”
Republic finishes the 2016 season at 2-8.
Neosho will march into the district semifinals for the second year in a row and much like last year they’ll have revenge in mind.
On Sep. 16 the Wildcats thought they had pulled off a huge win over undefeated Nixa, before the Eagles put together a game-winning touchdown drive, scoring with just 35 seconds left in that game to steal a 31-28 victory.
That was one of two one-possession losses against conference powers for the Wildcats.
Baldwin knows if his program is to take the next step, it will need to win games like next Friday’s tilt with Nixa.
“We are extremely excited to still have the opportunity to play football,” said Baldwin. “Nixa is a great program and Coach Reahagan does a tremendous job but we feel like we let one get away against them earlier this season. This is a different game, a different week and we are going to try to approach it that way starting Monday. Nixa’s a tough place to win but our kids are looking forward to it.
Neosho will visit Nixa for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday.
Neosho 35, Republic 7
Republic 0-7-0-0 – 7
Neosho 14-7-7-7 – 28
Neosho – Coleman Scott 1 run (kick good)
Neosho – James Renfro 29 run (kick good)
Neosho – Jarvis Funk 19 pass from Scott (kick good)
Republic – Devon Ward 2 run (kick good)
Neosho – Renfro 13 run (kick good)
Neosho – Payton Klier 10 run (kick good)