This week’s game at Neosho started the same way as last week’s disaster against Webb City, but it didn’t take long for the Tigers to turn things around, and when they did, things got better in a hurry. Republic scored 35 points in the second quarter and rolled to a 56-21 win on the road.
Neosho got the ball first and immediately drove 64 yards on nine plays to take a 7-0 lead. Republic followed that up with a fumble on its first drive of the night, raising the specter of last week’s five-turnover debacle.
“I think anytime you have the bad game, as bad as that was, I think everybody’s kind of tight,” said coach Ryan Cornelsen. “When we fumbled, it’s like, ‘Oh gosh, is it coming again?’ And so once they got over that and we got going, then I felt like that’s our normal personality. That’s how we play, how we act.”
Like last week, the defense asserted itself in a difficult spot. Back-to-back sacks by Cam Allen and Garrett Lester drove Neosho backwards, and a shanked punt put Republic in business on the Wildcats’ 37 yard line. Seven plays later, Caide White scored Republic’s first touchdown from six yards out, and a Mason Cole extra point tied the score 7-7.
From there, Republic owned the game. The Tigers scored on eight consecutive drives — six in the first half and two in the second. After White scored again on an eight-yard run with 11:56 left in the second quarter, Republic was in control. White scored a third TD on a three-yard run with 10:32 left in the half, and Republic led 21-7.
A six-yard run by Kanon Krol with 7:28 left in the half made the score 28-7, and a 69-yard run by Woods added another touchdown on Republic’s next drive. With 1:43 remaining in the half, Woods threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to James Rexroat, giving the Tigers a 42-7 halftime lead.
All the while, the defense continued to shine against the Neosho spread offense. The Tigers’ three-man front shut down the run game, and the secondary knocked down several passes from Neosho quarterback Quenton Hughes. Linebacker Evan Buchanan recovered a fumble, while linebackers Cole Gimlin and Kendell Curbow were a terror in the middle.
Republic’s starters spent the second half on the bench, but the Tigers added two more touchdowns. A five-play, 43-yard drive — capped by an 18-yard TD run by David Hayes — made the score 49-7. After a Neosho touchdown cut the lead to 49-13, Republic finished its scoring for the night with a nine-play, 60-yard drive. A ten-yard touchdown run by sophomore Jackson Taylor — his first varsity score — made it 56-13. Neosho tacked on one late touchdown on a long pass and scored a two-point conversion to account for the final score.
Woods completed three of four passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, and he had eight carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. Krol carried the ball nine times for 89 yards and a touchdown. White rushed seven times, gaining 38 yards and scoring three touchdowns. Fleetwood had four carries for 30 yards. Taylor had four carries for 38 yards and a TD. Owen Klier had four carries for 21 yards. David Hayes rushed twice for 21 yards and a touchdown. Treyton Gray carried the ball twice and gained three yards. Trenten Coleman carried the ball one time for two yards.
James Rexroat caught three passes for a total of 81 yards and a touchdown.
In all, Republic had 81 passing yards and 336 rushing yards for a total of 417 yards. Neosho had 150 yards passing and 117 yards on the ground for a total of 267.
Kicker Mason Cole had a perfect night and tied a school record in the process. Cole was 8-for-8 on extra points, and his eight extra points in a game tied the school record set by Mitchell Heinzler against Ozark in 2014.
The Tigers improve to 3-1. Neosho falls to 0-4. Republic hosts Willard next week.