By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Webb City football team had won 11 straight home games entering Friday and sported a 146-11 record this century at Cardinal Stadium.
But the Cardinals felt like underdogs at home on Friday night against John Perry’s undefeated Nixa Eagles.
“I felt like there were probably more people that expected us to lose this game than to win it,” Webb City coach John Roderique said.
The Cardinals looked like a team out to prove a point. After a dominant 28-0 win: point taken.
“Maybe we played with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because of that,” Roderique said. “I don’t know. If the ball bounces a few different ways it could have been a close game and it could have turned out a lot different. They’ve got the most wins in our conference, undefeated, so obviously it just kind of brings the best out in you.”
Webb City improved to 6-1 overall and 5-1 in Central Ozark Conference play. The Cardinals also remained unbeaten against the Eagles – they’re 20-0 since 1988. Nixa dropped to 6-1 (6-1).
“Webb City was Webb City,” Perry said. “This ain’t their first year learning how to play football. I’m going to say they were fired up. We knew we were going to catch their best game and I thought they played tremendous. They flew around, they were very physical and kind of controlled the game from the very beginning. I thought we had a shot here or there. We made a couple mistakes early and you can’t make any mistakes against them, obviously.”
The first points of the game didn’t come until the 1:07 mark of the first quarter when senior quarterback Cole Gayman scored on a 10-yard run; senior Cameron Clark’s extra point made it 7-0.
The Cardinals added a 16 play, 80-yard drive in the second quarter lasting seven minutes that finished with a 7-yard score by junior Dupree Jackson. Webb City led 14-0 at the half.
The problem for Nixa all night was Webb City’s defense. The Eagles punted three times and turned it over twice on interceptions before halftime, and amassed just 68 yards total in the first two quarters and four first downs.
Webb City senior Eli Goddard intercepted a pass by Nixa quarterback Austin McCracken at the 37-yard line that set up the Cardinals’ first score.
Then, after a Webb City fumble at its own 21 early in the second, Nixa threw to the end zone on first down where Webb City senior Shane Noel made a leaping interception to set up the 80-yard scoring drive.
Nixa finished the game with 164 yards of offense and completed 8-of-26 passing attempts for 83 yards.
“We struggled a little bit,” Perry said, “and we probably should have run the ball more early on because they were dropping so many people. We had a blown assignment on one of the interceptions that really should have been a touchdown. We had them in a look we liked, receiver brought the corner to the play. And we had a receiver out so we had to move some guys around but no excuses, man. They out-played us, they out-coached us. That is a good football program. That is the model of where we’re going, we’re just not there yet.”
Webb City, which dominated time of possession 31:29 to 16:31, added second-half touchdowns on a Goddard-to-Cohl Vaden pass from the 13 with 4:25 left in the third quarter, and a 6-yard Gayman rush with 5:51 left in the fourth.
The Cardinals racked up 386 yards of offense and rushed 56 times for 306 yards. Senior Devrin Weathers rushed 22 times for 132 yards and Jackson added 102 on 18 carries.
Nixa only possessed the ball for three series in the second half; the Eagles punted on their first and then twice turned it over on downs in Webb City territory.
After starting at their own 19, the Eagles drove to the Webb City 23 but threw incomplete on a fourth-and-4. Nixa later drove from its 28 to the Webb City 44 but again threw incomplete on fourth down.
It was the second defensive shutout for Webb City this year, and the Cardinals have allowed an average of 7.75 points in their last four games. And Nixa entered Friday averaging 40 points a game.
Roderique said he was “thrilled” with the win.
“I thought our guys just played with a lot of guts in all three phases,” he said. “Offensively, defensively. That’s a phenomenal effort by our defense, too, because that team has scored a lot of points this year. They’re really talented. Hats off to our defense. Our defense just continues to get better each and every week and that’s made a huge difference for our football team.”
“I thought that was a great test for us and golly they whooped us,” Perry said. “It is what it is. We will regroup and be ready to roll.”