BY JASON PEAKE
A strong defensive effort and a third-quarter surge propelled Webb City to a 34-0 victory over Carl Junction on Friday night in the 2019 season opener at Bulldog Stadium.
Webb City's stout defense limited Carl Junction's potentially explosive spread offense to 62 yards. The Bulldogs had negative-seven yards in the first half.
"Our defense was outstanding," Webb City coach John Roderique said. "Credit to our coaches and our kids ... they were flying around and making plays. We've got some speed on that side of the ball and they played real physical. I'm proud of the way our defense played. We defended the whole field."
Opening the season against the Cardinals for the fourth straight year, the Bulldogs never reached the red zone.
"Our defense played lights out tonight," said Trenten Thompson, Webb City's 6-foot-3, 240-pound senior defensive lineman who was credited with three tackles for loss. "Our defense loves to set the tone of the game. It's just a great feeling to get a shutout."
Ranked second in Class 4 by the Missouri Media, Webb City led 13-0 after halftime and then scored a pair of touchdowns early in the third period to pull away.
"We made some mistakes in the first half, but we regrouped at halftime and played more composed in the second half," Roderique said. "I'm real proud of our guys. They finished well."
Webb City compiled 386 yards of total offense, with 318 rushing and 68 passing. The Cardinals recorded 17 first downs. Senior Terrell Kabala ran for 80 yards and one score, while junior Devrin Weathers rushed for 73 yards on eight carries with two touchdowns.
The Cardinals committed three turnovers, while the Bulldogs had two. Webb City was flagged for 10 penalties for 90 yards, while Carl Junction had four penalties for 45 yards.
Carl Junction recorded 45 passing yards on eight completions and 17 rushing yards on 30 attempts. The Bulldogs had seven first downs. Senior Garret Taylor completed 7-of-12 passes, while junior Noah Southern ran for 20 yards and classmate Brady Sims had 16 rushing yards.
Webb City's first drive went 59 yards on seven plays and was capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by Weathers. A pass interference penalty on the Bulldogs preceded the score.
After the teams traded turnovers late in the first quarter, the Cardinals took a 13-0 lead at the 3:13 mark of the second period when Kabala took an option pitch from senior quarterback Kade Hicks and sprinted 35 yards to the end zone. A 39-yard pass to Cale McCallister and a QB keeper by Hicks set up the score.
After Carl Junction's Dylan Sims recovered a fumble, the Bulldogs threatened late in the first half, advancing the ball to the 26, but the drive stalled.
While the Bulldogs held the Cardinals to two scores in the opening half, the visitors got going in a big way in the third period.
Webb City's first series of the second half, a 10-play, 71-yard drive, ended with a 25-yard touchdown sprint by Weathers. The Bulldogs fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, with Dillon Harlen recovering.
Four plays later, a 26-yard touchdown strike from Hicks to McCallister gave the Cardinals a 27-0 lead with 5:08 left in the third period. Hicks later left the game with an injury, while Carl Junction lost senior two-way starter Teagan Armentrout to injury in the fourth quarter.
Harlen's 31-yard touchdown sprint up the middle with 3:24 left accounted for the final margin.
"I thought we played pretty well defensively in the first half, with the exception of one or two plays," Bulldogs coach Doug Buckmaster said. "It was a competitive game in the first half. We had a few things that didn't go our way that I felt should have gone our way. We weren't able to compete defensively in the third quarter because we barely had the ball. They took advantage of field position and then it was game over. Defensively, we played well enough to be in the game, but we gave them no help offensively."
Webb City hosts Joplin in Week 2 next Friday while Carl Junction is at Carthage.
Joplin Globe 08/31/2019 (Used by permission)