The Lamar Tigers had double motivation coming into Friday night’s Big 8 matchup with the Cassville Wildcats.
Not only did Cassville put the only blemish on their record during last year’s state championship season, the Tigers wanted to get back on track after last week’s 13-7 loss to Seneca in their Big 8 opener. In that game, the Tigers dominated play against the Indians but five turnovers proved to be their undoing.
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Unfortunately, the turnover bug wasn’t done with the Tigers as they lost four fumbles and fumbled the snap on a punt attempt to stake Cassville to a 24-0 halftime lead. From there the formidable Cassville defense took over and the Wildcats went on to a 31-0 victory.
The turnover troubles started right from the outset as Lamar’s first series ended after just three plays with a fumble giving the ball to Cassville on the 10 yard line. Lamar’s defense would hold the Wildcats to a Bradley Lueckenhoff field goal for a 3-0 lead. The next Tigers possession ended again ended with a fumble but the resulting Cassville possession ended in a punt.
Then things really started to go bad for Lamar.
The Tigers were forced to punt on their next possession but the snap was fumbled by the Lamar punter. Cassville’s Cody Frana flew in with a hit before it could be recovered and the ball bounced right to Garrett Kirk, who scooped it up and returned it 7 yards for a 10-0 lead.
Late in the first quarter, after being pinned at their own 1 by a Stone Phelps punt, the Tigers coughed up the ball again. On the first play of the second quarter, Cassville’s Josh Carlton punched in the first of his two short touchdowns on the night for a 17-0 lead. The Wildcats would take a 24-0 lead before the half on a 15-yard TD pass from quarterback Gabe Kirk to tight end Logan Scott.
The only score of the second half came on a 3-yard Carlton carry to end a drive aided by three Lamar penalties. The Wildcats defense did the rest, holding Lamar’s vaunted rushing attack to just 119 yards on 31 carries. For their part, the Lamar defense did a solid job tonight. After Cassville topped 300 yards rushing in each of their first two games, the Tigers D and a sloppy field held the Wildcat attack to only 150 yards on 44 rushes.
Quarterback Levi Peterson led the Tigers on the ground with 40 yards on 14 carries. Leading rusher Jared Beshore missed the game with a high ankle sprain.
For Cassville, Brent Thompson rushed 11 times for 76 yards to lead them. Kirk aided the cause passing for 72 yards on 6 of 8 passing with a touchdown. Cassville goes to 3-0, 1-0 in the Big 8 and will travel to Seneca next week. Lamar drops to 1-2 with an 0-2 conference start. They will host 3-0 Mt. Vernon next.