In Week 7, everything seemed to fall into place for Republic in a 56-35 win at Branson. In Week 8, everything seemed to fall apart. The Tigers dropped passes, missed tackles, and struggled in most aspects of the game in a 48-7 loss at Carthage Friday.
“We’ll watch the film, learn from it, and forget it,” says coach Dustin Baldwin of the lopsided loss. “We didn’t show up ready to go. Tackling was poor. We dropped a lot of footballs. We didn’t block extremely well, and had three or four turnovers. You’re not going to win games against good teams with the effort and focus we had tonight. It was pretty poor.”
Republic had an opportunity to seize the momentum early, after its initial drive ended with a punt. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Carthage fumbled the ball back to Republic, setting up a short field and an opportunity to take the lead. But Republic fumbled the ball right back a couple of plays later, and Carthage answered with a 74-yard touchdown pass from Zeke Sappington to Arkell Smith, making it 6-0. The 2-point conversion was no good.
Yocum Automotive Drive of the Game
One of Republic’s struggles all year has been putting together consistent, sustained offensive drives. On a night when offensive struggles were the norm, they managed to sustain the longest scoring drive of the past several seasons. Trailing 14-0, Republic kept the ball for 18 plays, methodically marching downfield. From the three yard line, Landin Sigman took the ball from Riley Watkins, hit the line, and stretched forward as a Carthage tackler grabbed him around the leg. He crossed the goal line, putting Republic on the board, and completing our Yocum Automotive Drive of the Game.
Carthage scored again on a three-yard run by running back Clay Newman and converted to make it 14-0.
That’s when Republic put together it’s only bright spot of the night. The Tigers marched 65 yards in 18 plays, and when Landin Sigman stretched into the end zone, it cut the Carthage lead in half. From there, it was all Carthage.
Sappington and Smith connected again to make it 22-7, and Bryce Pugh picked off a pass by Riley Watkins and scampered 52 yards for another touchdown to make it 28-7. Sappington ran it in from three yards out with less than a minute remaining in the half to give Carthage a 34-7 lead at halftime.
Carthage got two more touchdown runs from Newman in the 2nd half — of five yards and six yards — to account for the final score.
After rushing for more than 300 yards against Branson last week, Republic managed just 151 yards of total offense against Carthage. Skyler Owen had 60 yards on 15 carries. No one else had more than 20 rushing yards. Watkins was 10 for 24 passing for 53 yards. He threw two interceptions.
Carthage quarterback Zeke Sappington completed nine of 14 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 43 yards. Running back Ryan Newman gashed the Republic offense for 141 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries. Receiver Arkell Smith had seven catches for 165 yards.
Baldwin says he told his players they have two options heading into Week 9: “You can either learn from it and work hard, or you can go cry in the corner. Nobody feels sorry for us,” he says. “We’re going to go back to work. We play Willard, and that’s a team we know we can play with. It’s a big game. It’s going to determine the #3 or #4 seed in our district, and we’d sure like to get the #3.”
The winner of the game between the 3rd and 6th seeds will likely play #2 Nixa in Week 11. The winner of the game between the 4th and 5th seeds will have to face off against top-seeded Carthage.
Republic falls to 3-5 overall. They’ll host Willard next Friday.