The streak is over
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Staff Writer
HARRISONVILLE, Mo. – The Webb City Cardinals advanced to the Missouri Class 4 state championship with a 35-8 win over the Harrisonville Wildcats Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats entered the contest on a 12-game winning streak after losing their first game of the season to Helias. On their way to the semifinals, they took out Moberly, Hannibal and the previously undefeated defending state champion Kearney Bulldogs.
The Cardinals (14-0) used a balanced offensive attack and a swarming defense to put an end to that streak.
In the first half, this didn’t look like the blowout the score indicates. Webb City got the ball to start the game, and on the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Breckin Williams threw a pass that was picked off by Kyle Livingston deep in their own territory.
Harrisonville (12-2) wasn’t able to capitalize on the field position when their quarterback Landon Teal tossed an interception on the third play from scrimmage.
“I think that was a telltale sign,” Harrisonville coach Chuck Lliteras said of the missed opportunity. “Had we scored that touchdown, I think the complexion of the game would have been a little bit different. We played them as close as we could play them until our defense got tired, and they just kept pounding on us in the second half, but you know that’s why we play the game.”
And so it went throughout the opening stanza of the game, a battle of field position.
Webb City was able to break through in the second quarter when Maddison Johnson scored one of his four touchdowns of the game on an 11-yard run.
“We were a little tight, a little nervous, a little anxious coming out,” Webb City head coach John Roderique said. “I didn’t know what to expect in the second half. We went into that locker room knowing that we threw everything we had at them.”
Well, he must have said something to his team at the break. The Cardinals posted two more scores on runs of 44 and 14 from Johnson. He added another in the fourth on a two-yard run.
Even though Johnson accounted for the majority of the offense on the ground, Williams was able to throw for 141 yards, hitting his favorite target Austin Daniel five times for 114 yards.
“We knew they were going to play a lot up field with their linebackers and their d-backs,” Daniel said. “They have some good strong kids, and we were trying to balance more and not just base our offense on the run.”
Defensively, the Cardinals were able to shut down Harrisonville’s attack with speed and pressure.
“What can you say about the defense? I tell the kids, if they don’t score, we can’t lose,” said Roderique.
Harrisonville finally got on the scoreboard when Zech Blaine took it in from a yard out. The Wildcats tacked on the two-point conversion and trailed 28-8 with 2:33 to play in the game. Lliteras decided to for the onside kick. It was picked up by Webb City’s Phoenix Johnson who bolted 44 yards for the touchdown and to ice the game.
“We couldn’t get any movement up front,” Lliteras said of his team’s offensive performance. “They were the first team all year long that stalemated us up front, and we couldn’t get any push, and that hurt us offensively trying to get anything established. When we did get things established, we had some dropped balls. It kept us in second and third and long, and you can’t beat Webb City doing that.”
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