The Ozark Tigers mauled the visiting Cardinals from St. Joseph Benton, 69-13, on a rare Saturday afternoon game.
The Tigers were looking to get off to a quick start and when senior Austin Roberts returned the opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown, the rout was on. The Cardinals fumbled on their second play of the game which was recovered by Ozark’s Levi Tucker on Benton’s 23-yard line. It did not take long for Ozark to capitalize on Benton’s turnover when David Salazar ran 12 yards to put the Tigers up 14-0 at the 11:18 mark in the first quarter. The miscues would continue for St. Joseph Benton when on its next possession Ozark's Levi Barnes blocked a punt. Seth Wheeler picked up the ball and returned it 5 yards for the touchdown, making the score 22-0. Benton managed to regroup and score with 19 seconds to go in the quarter, making the score 22-7.
The second quarter is when the Tigers’ strength and speed took over.
“I know that they (Benton) were a little banged up from their jamboree, plus you just never know how your kids are going to react coming out of the gate,” said Ozark Coach Mark Bliss. “I’m really pleased with our effort in all three phases of the game. Our special teams helped us today, the defense did some nice things, and offensively we were able to get the ball in the hands of our play makers.”
Using the two quarterback system with Salazar and Wheeler, Ozark was able to run its system well.
“They are unselfish kids. You can’t just key on one certain player when they’re out there,” said Bliss. “Our defense played well, our turnover ratio was plus five and that is crucial for us to be successful.”
Led by Wheeler, Salazar and Cody Lindsay, the Tigers put 33 unanswered points on the board in the second quarter, making the score at halftime 55-7.
“We came out strong, fast and really came together as a team today,” said Lindsay. “David and Seth are great athletes and they can make some tremendous plays. Also, our offensive line was great today.”
The second half saw Ozark play every player on the roster, including sophomore Caleb Essick who returned an interception 72 yards, to make the score 69-7. Benton would score a late touchdown in the third quarter to finish the scoring 69-13.
Ozark (1-0) will travel to Harrison (Ark.) on August 31st to open the Goblins’ season.
Ozark—Austin Roberts 87-yard Kickoff Return (Cale Danielson PAT) 14:45
Ozark—David Salazar 12-yard run (Danielson PAT) 11:18
Ozark – Seth Wheeler 5-yard block punt return (2pt conversion Austin Roberts to Ryne Troy) 9:48
Benton—Dontae White 3-yard run (Derek Kendall PAT) :19 Second Quarter
Ozark—Cody Lindsay 4- yard run (PAT blocked) 8:23
Ozark—Lindsay 35-yard catch from Salazar (Danielson PAT) 6:01
Ozark—Roberts 35-yard catch from Salazar (Danielson PAT) 5:44
Ozark—Roberts 53-yard catch from Salazar (2pt con failed) 4:24
Ozark—Wheeler 13-yard catch from Salazar (Danielson PAT) 1:41 Third Quarter
Ozark—Wheeler 2-yard run (Danielson PAT) 10:17
Ozark—Caleb Essick 72-yard interception return (Danielson PAT) 6:30
Benton—Alex Summerow 10-yard run (PAT missed) :37
It was a tough weekend for our local teams in Blue Springs.
Both Springfield Catholic and Nixa went 0-for-2 on the weekend, forcing them to settle for fourth place in Class 3 and Class 1 respectively.
CLICK HERE FOR NIXA 3RD PLACE GAME PHOTOS --...
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