The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 16, 2013

Joplin Crusaders open season with road victory


From staff reports

ENID, Okla. — The Joplin Crusaders opened their non-pro Central Football League schedule by pulling out a 19-15 win against the Northern Oklahoma Ruffnecks on Saturday at Selby Field.

Steve Hamilton’s estimated pass of 40 yards to Matt Rice with about 3 1/2 minutes left created the final score.

The Crusaders, bidding for a six-point lead, were unable to convert the conversion pass.

Said Joplin coach Dave Pitts: “We didn’t  play very well. We didn’t show much emotion.

“But the Ruffnecks weren’t bad,” Pitts said. “They beat Wichita (the Kansas Cougars) the other night.”

Said Joplin defensive coordinator Brenden Gubera: “We were flat. We also had seven turnovers. It’s the mark of a good team to win despite making that many turnovers.

“The Ruffnecks played well on defense,” Gubera said. “We responded when we had to do it.”

Danny Knighten scored both earlier touchdowns for Joplin. He snagged a 36-yard pass from Robert Lockett in the first period and returned a punt some 60 yards for a TD in the second quarter.

The Crusaders’ journey didn’t start in stellar fashion. Their bus blew a tire and they didn’t make it until about 45 minutes before game time.

Joplin remains on the road next Saturday by visiting the Arkansas Battle at Lincoln High School.