The Cubs entered into Friday night's tilt with several questions about conditioning, toughness and hype that arose after week one's 26-10 loss to Mt. Vernon.
Monett responded those doubters with a dominating effort in all three phases (offense, defense and special teams) against the Wildcats.
Neither team could move the ball on their initial drive. The Cubs' Zack Swearingen and Hunter Witt each broke up third down pass attempts on Neosho's first and second possessions to force punts.
Monett's stingy defense held Wildcats' quarterbacks Justin McKee and Austin Hailey to three of 13 passing for 62 yards.
Five straight Aaron Hall runs and two Neosho penalties quickly advanced the ball to the Wildcats' 19-yard line.
Senior quarterback Kyle Woods then dropped back to pass, but was forced to scramble to his left. Woods picked up 18-yards on the broken run and a play later he punched the ball across the goal line to give the Cubs a 6-0 advantage. The extra point attempt was no good.
In desperate need of something positive, Neosho's third drive of the first half, began at its own 32-yard line. Three plays later the Wildcats faced fourth and inches at the 41. Instead of punting, they elected to go for the first down. Monett's defense was up to the challenge as linebacker Matt Murphy knifed through a gap to drop the Wildcats' running back for a 3-yard loss.
Feeding off the momentum, Monett responded by marching 38-yards, in seven plays in 2:50 scoring on a Hall 6-yard run. Kurran Blamey swept in from the left side for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.
Monett's swarming defense clogged the interior running lanes of Neosho all night. The Wildcats managed only four first downs (one in the first half and three in the second half) the entire game.
The Wildcats decided to change tactics and took to the air on their next possession trying to find a way to move the ball, but two incomplete passes and a fumbled snap sent the punting unit back on the field.
A shanked punt gave the Cubs excellent field position at the Wildcats' 40-yard line and Monett would only need two plays to cage Neosho's chances of a comeback.
Hall picked up two yards on first down, then he drove into the line on a play designed to gain four yards on second down. Hall, with great vision, bounced to the outside of the jumbled mass of purple and white players and raced 37 yards untouched to pay dirt. Blamey would run into the end zone on the two-point conversion to give the Cubs a commanding 22-0 advantage heading into intermission.
Any chance of the Wildcats getting back in the game would have to start on the first possession of the second half. It was almost déjà vu from a week ago. Just like the Mountaineers, in week one, the Wildcats ripped down the field aided by David Dean's 41-yard reception and scored on McKee's 1-yard plunge. The point after was good and the Cubs lead was cut to 22-7.
"You gotta tip your cap to Neosho," said Depée. "They went into halftime and made some adjustments and scored out of the blocks. We told our boys that we were going to have to respond."
Neosho's instant momentum led to and invigorated defense that yielded a Cubs first down, but forced a punt four plays later.
With the ball back at their 44-yard line, Neosho ran a sweep on five consecutive plays and moved the ball to the Cubs 48-yard line. McKee then lofted a ball, high into the air that sailed over his intended targets head and into the outstretched arms of Monett defensive back Tyler Bass. Bass returned the ball to the Wildcats' 46-yard line where the Cubs offense would take over with 56 second left in the third quarter.
"That was a huge play," said Depee. "We were burned by that pass earlier in the half. Tyler did a great job of reacting in coverage and making the adjustment to get the interception."
The Cubs' offense took over and began a long, time consuming and game clinching drive. The hungry Wildcats defenders were fed a steady diet of the Cubs' ground game.
Hall, Blamey and Woods combined to rush the ball 16 times on the drive as Monett milked 9:17 off the clock. Woods scored on a 1-yard run and Aaron Aldrich's kick sailed true to complete the scoring.
Hall finished the game with 140-yards rushing on 33 carries and two touchdowns. Woods toted the pigskin 11 times for 49 yards and two scores and Blamey earned 53 yards on seven carries Woods was one for one passing, a nine yard completion to Hall.
"Aaron was our (work) horse tonight," said Depée. "Anytime you tote the rock 33 times and you don't put it on the ground (fumble) you have had a special night. We knew we were capable of playing this type of game against a bigger school. I am happy with the 'W'."
McKee accounted for 65 of Neosho 120 total yards of offense on 15 running attempts. The Wildcats also racked up 91 penalty yards.
The Cubs hit the road this Friday for a tilt with the McDonald County Mustang in Anderson. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.