Avery Moody had 192 all-purpose yards, including Republic’s only touchdown of the night. (Photo by Steve Rackley / Flat Top Photos)

Improved Tigers Fall Short at Webb City

Since their visit to Webb City eight weeks ago, the Republic Tigers have improved in just about every aspect of their game. But that improvement still wasn’t enough to get past the Cardinals during Friday’s rematch. Webb City beat Republic 35-7 to advance to the district championship game against Carthage.

“That was a physical game, and the fact of the matter is they were just better than us,” said coach Ryan Cornelsen. “If you play long enough, sometimes that happens. We’re not going to make excuses. We’re going to tip our hat to them and say they beat us.”

The first time the Tigers traveled to Webb City nearly two months ago, it was their worst performance of the season. The Cardinals scored six touchdowns in the first half and busted the Tiger defense for big play after big play. Despite the score in Friday’s game, Cornelsen said his team’s improvement since then is obvious.

“There was no doubt it was different. I know the score wasn’t that much different, but the level of play and the physical play that we played with was drastically better,” Cornelsen said. “Sometimes it’s hard to see that on the scoreboard, but it’s not even comparable, the two teams (from Week 3 and Week 11).”

This time around, Republic played with the Cardinals in the first half. The defense gave up one big play, and the offense moved the ball at times, but Republic was unable to finish its long drives, and Webb City steadily pulled away.

The Cardinals went up 7-0 on a 44-yard touchdown run by Cade Wilson with 8:57 left in the first quarter. They scored again after an interception by Brentan Wilson, driving 60 yards and getting into the end zone on a two-yard touchdown run by Dupree Jackson early in the second quarter to make it 14-0.

Republic drove into the red zone but failed to score, turning the ball over on downs, and Webb City marched the length of the field to score again before halftime. Wilson’s two-yard run made the score 21-0.

Republic had an opportunity to score in the final 46 seconds of the half, thanks to a long kickoff return by Mason Fleetwood that put the ball in Webb City territory. But the Tigers ran out of time, and Marco Donjuan missed a 31-yard field goal just before the end of the half.

Webb City scored twice more in the third quarter, first on an 18-yard run by Dupree Jackson, then on a 16-yard pass from Cohl Vaden to Dante Washington. That made the score 35-0.

Republic got its only points on a 58-yard run by Moody in the fourth quarter. Moody put together one of his best all-around offensive performances of the season. Moody rushed for 160 yards. He also completed three of six passes for 32 yards.

In total yardage, the teams weren’t very far apart. Webb City out-gained Republic 313 yards to 276. Two interceptions by the Webb City defense helped increase the margin of victory.

Cole Gimlin ran the ball 11 times for 33 yards. Connor Sandridge had eight carries for 18 yards. Gunner Ellison had a 32-yard reception (from Gavyn Beckner) and Dean Marcum caught a pass for 15 yards. Aidan Gregory also had one reception for 11 yards, and Carson Taylor had a six-yard reception.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team and our seniors. They’ve done everything I’ve asked. I told them that the most disappointing part is we don’t have practice Monday and I don’t get to see then at practice again,” Cornelsen said.

And he said as coaches and players look back on the season, their improvement during the past 11 weeks will stand out.

“That’s something our coaching staff (and) our players should be extremely proud of, because not every team goes through that schedule and gets better, and they did,” Cornelsen said. “They kept getting better and they kept trying to learn. We’re so much different right now than we were to start the year. It’s been, been fun to be a part of.”

Republic finishes its season 6-5. It’s the first time since 2015 the Tigers finished with six wins in a season.

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