You wouldn’t know it from the final score, but both offenses made mistakes during the shootout between Republic and Carl Junction Friday night. The difference in the game was that Carl Junction made Republic pay for its mistakes and Republic didn’t return the favor. It added up to a 55-48 Bulldogs victory that overshadowed a monster performance by Tigers quarterback Lucas Hayes.
Hayes accounted for more than 480 total yards – 246 on the ground (on 30 carries). He completed 14 of 25 passes for 236 yards, throwing two touchdowns, but also throwing two interceptions. He also fumbled the ball once –– but he had a part in six of the Tigers’ seven touchdowns.
But despite the three Republic turnovers, the Tigers stayed in the game until the final two minutes. The two offenses were nearly identical. Each unofficially totaled 535 yards. The Bulldogs got six touchdown passes from their first-time starter at quarterback, Drew Patterson. Patterson completed 15 of 21 passes for 294 yards.
Republic coach Dustin Baldwin said a combination of shortcomings did the Tigers in on defense.
“They have certain schemes that they’ve run for a long time that we just didn’t do a very good job of either game planning or executing. It was a little bit of both,” said Baldwin. “We didn’t tackle. We had obvious tackles in space that we missed and then they’d go for extra yardage.
“There was one confusion that I know of that gave up a big score. Other than that, I didn’t feel like we were confused. We just didn’t come down and make plays.”
The teams traded touchdowns throughout the first half. Republic scored first on a two-yard touchdown run by Hayes, and after a Carl Junction score, the Tigers struck again, scoring on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Hayes to Claye White. Carl Junction answered again to tie the score at 14 apiece.
On Republic’s next drive, a six-yard loss on an end-around forced the Tigers to punt for the first time. Carl Junction drove 81 yards in just four plays to take its first lead, 21-14. And after Teagan Armentrout intercepted a Lucas Hayes pass, it looked like the Bulldogs would extend their lead to 14. But Claye White picked off a tipped pass and sprinted 73 yards to the end zone, tying the game and swinging momentum back to Republic momentarily.
The momentum didn’t last long, because Carl Junction scored quickly again, but Hayes engineered another scoring drive to tie the game going into the half. The Tigers went 80 yards in nine plays, scoring on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Hayes to Gavin Walker, bringing the score to 28-28 at halftime.
In the second half, Carl Junction scored to regain the lead on its first drive, and a fumble by Hayes ended Republic’s effort to pull even again. The Bulldogs took advantage of the mistake by driving 52 yards in five plays, scoring another touchdown to make the score 42-28.
On Republic’s next drive, highlighted by a 45-yard completion to Riley Sigman, the Tigers scored again. A pass from Hayes to Gavin Walker made the score 42-34, and Republic missed the extra point, leaving an eight point deficit.
Another Carl Junction touchdown stretched the lead to 49-34, but Republic didn’t quit. A three-yard touchdown run by Hayes cut the lead to 49-41. And the defense finally got a stop on the next Bulldogs possession, forcing a punt.
With a chance to drive down the field and tie the game, though, another costly mistake hurt the Tigers. Hayes threw his second interception of the game, and Carl Junction turned the turnover into another touchdown, making the score 55-41.
Republic scored one last time, with 1:29 remaining, when Hayes ran 24 yards to the end zone. The extra point made the score 55-48, but the Tigers failed to recover an onside kick, and Carl Junction ran out the clock.
“I was proud of our kids in terms of their effort. Obviously, we never quit,” said Baldwin. “Even the defense never quit. They never quit playing hard. We just did not do things right fundamentally, between tackling and giving up leverage and taking the wrong path to the football. It’s got to come down to your pursuit angles and making tackles when you get there.”
Claye White caught five passes for over 100 yards, including the touchdown reception and the interception return for a touchdown. Riley Sigman caught three passes for 59 yards, and he also rushed the ball 14 times for 57 yards. Josh Sterling had four receptions for 62 yards.
The Tigers fall to 1-2 this season, and they will host unbeaten Joplin next weekend. Carl Junction is also 1-2.