The third-seeded Monett Cubs football team (9-3) extended their season another game with a 10-6 victory over the Cassville Wildcats (11-1) on Nov. 5.
"All the work, weight lifting, practice and film sessions paid off tonight," said Monett coach Chad Depée to his team after the game. "You knew you were capable of a game like this tonight, and you went out and took it."
The contest also marked the first time Cassville had been held to single digit scoring since Monett's 13-7 victory in the 2008 regular season contest.
"My hat is off to Cassville," said Depée. "They played hard every down and are a direct reflection of their great coaching staff. Our kids executed the game plan, and we were fortunate to get the win."
In typical Wildcat fashion, Cassville began a slow, methodical and grinding drive that moved the ball from the Cassville 46-yard line to the Cubs' 8 in seven plays.
On a second and goal from the 10, Monett defensive lineman Nick Childress ripped through the line to strip Cassville quarterback Gabe Kirk. Cooper Caldwell jumped on the loose ball to thwart the Wildcats' drive.
Prater returned the loose ball to the Cubs' 20-yard line. A late hit penalty moved the ball to the 10 where the Wildcats took over.
Monett's defense dug in their heels and held the Wildcats to a 33-yard Stone Phelps' field goal with 9:49 left in the first half.
Once again, Monett's defense, nicknamed the "Purple Haze" due to their physical play, stepped up.
On second and 4, Kirk was met in the backfield by defensive lineman Devon Overall, who forced then recovered a fumble at the Cassville 20.
Each team would exchange punts, and Cassville would take one more shot at the Cubs before the intermission.
Starting at the 38, and with 33 seconds left in the half, the Wildcats moved the ball with Brent Thompson gains of 10 and 35 to allow Phelps to kick a 35-yard field goal to lift Cassville to a 6-3 lead at halftime.
Monett started its first series of the second half on the Wildcats' 40-yard line.
On first down, Kurran Blamey raced around the right side of the Monett line for a 55-yard run to give the Cubs first and goal at the 5. Two plays later, Hall powered into the end zone for the only touchdown of the game for either team.
The score provided the fuel for the Cubs' Purple Haze defensive engine.
"Our motto was 'stay together,'" said Monett defensive lineman Reese Bounous. "That score fired us up. We had a lead, and we wanted to make a statement."
The purple and gold defense wreaked havoc on the Wildcats' offense. Cassville running backs were routinely hit before reaching the line of scrimmage. Kirk had almost no time to set his feet and throw down field.
The Wildcats' offense earned only one first down on their first four offensive drives in the second half, and managed only 15 total yards on those series.
The Cubs' offense chewed up time and moved the ball into Wildcat territory on its first four drives of the second half forcing Cassville's defense to play under pressure the entire evening.
The Wildcats' average starting field position on their first five drives of the second half was their own 19-yard line.
"Cameron Witt did a great job of getting the ball down the field," said Depée. "He made a huge impact on the game and that is big for our freshman punter."
Cassville finally started a drive out of the shadows of their own goal post with 4:24 left in regulation at the Wildcats' 29.
Kirk completed passes to Ty Craig, Thompson and Prater moving the ball to the Cubs' 10-yard line with 3:19 remaining, forcing Monett to burn a time out.
Kirk was held to no gain on first down, and three incomplete passes gave the ball back to the Cubs with 2:20 left in the contest.
"I prayed a lot over those final four minutes," said Monett defensive coordinator Jim Genzler. "We talked in the timeout about changing our coverage, but in the end, the kids felt they could make a play. The whole defensive unit played with max effort."
Even though the Cubs had the ball, they were not out of the woods. Cassville used its timeout judicially, and Monett was forced to punt out of its own end zone.
Witt, under heavy pressure, managed to shoot the ball off his foot and out of bounds at the Cubs' 32-yard line with 1:14 left in the contest.
Kirk's first pass on the ensuing drive was dislodged from Prater's hands on a hit by Overall. Kirk scrambled on second down but was held to a 3-yard gain after being tackled by Dezmond Bradford.
On third down, Craig had a pass slip through his hands to bring up fourth and 7. Kirk's fourth down pass fell harmlessly to the ground to end the drive and the Wildcats' chances for victory.
A euphoric celebration erupted in the Monett stands when Woods took a knee in the victory formation to seal the win.
The game was payback from playoff defeat the Cubs suffered at the hands of the Wildcats in 2008.
"This game is just another win for our team," said Blamey. "But to the city of Monett, this was a huge win, a community win. We watched and saw how much it (the 2008 loss) hurt. This was for Monett."
The Cubs' offense ran 66 plays and possessed the ball for an astounding 31 minutes, 16:21 in the first half and 14:39 in the second. The Wildcats snapped the ball 44 times and managed to control of the pigskin for 17 minutes.
"As a senior, I am happy to get to play another game," said Hall. "The offensive line really stepped up tonight. None of the yards that Kurran and I gained would have been possible if they hadn't opened holes."
Monett racked up 251 yards of offense, 219 yards rushing and 32 yards passing.
Woods was four of seven passing for 32 yards. Hall, Grant Oganesyn, Overall and Blamey all had receptions for the Cubs.
Cassville was limited by Monett's defense to 173 total yards of offense, 97 yards rushing and 76 yards passing.
Kirk rushed 15 times for 24 yards, and Thompson earned 78 yards on 13 carries.
Kirk was six of 18 passing for 76 yards.
"During our midseason game, we allowed these guys to score 30 points," said Depée. "We challenged the defense to stop the run, and they did an amazing job of responding."
Monett advances to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1977 and will host Eldon, a 42-7 winner over Osage on Sat., Nov. 10.
Gates open at noon. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.