By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
Republic came out throwing.
The Webb City defense was downright picky about it and answered the challenge.
Webb City intercepted five passes — preceding as many touchdowns — as the Cardinals, marking head coach John Roderique’s 45th birthday, defeated the Tigers 48-7 on Wednesday night in a semifinal of the MSHSAA Class 4 District 4 football playoffs.
No. 1 seed Webb City (11-0), two-time defending state champion, entertains No. 2 Springfield Hillcrest (10-1), a 49-20 winner against visiting Carthage, at 7 p.m. on Monday in the district title game at Cardinal Stadium.
Fourth-seeded Republic, which trailed 34-7 at the half (the Cardinals had four of their picks in the first half), finished 5-6 under former Webb City coach Kurt Thompson.
The Republic strategy, considering its recent success, wasn’t a surprise, Thompson said.
“We decided we had to throw the ball,” Thompson said. “We wanted to give it a shot.
“We made it interesting for a while (trailing 14-7 after one period),” Thompson said. “Logan Williams and Nate Brown made great plays for the first two Webb City interceptions.
“Webb City made the plays in the second quarter and second half,” Thompson said. “It’s a team with outstanding players and a great coaching staff.”
Said Roderique: “We were opportunistic on defense. ... especially in that first half. Our guys played well on defense.”
Republic, according to Webb City statistics, ran for 29 yards and passed for 133.
Webb City, winning its 41st game in a row, rushed for 370 yards and passed for 111.
“We were sporadic on offense in the first half,” Roderique said. “Maybe we threw the ball too much.”
Still, son John, who had some passes dropped, completed 8 of 15.
Dalton Humphrey and Todd Fowler joined Williams and Brown in first-half thefts for the Cardinals. Kiante Hardin had his sixth interception of the season in the third quarter.
Roderique (30 yards) and Phoenix Johnson (8) had scoring runs for the Cardinals in the first quarter. Republic then scored on Zach Hall’s 25-yard pass to Garrett Metscher and had possession in good position in the second period before Brown’s acrobatic theft.
Roderique lofted scoring passes to Kohl Slaughter (30 yards) and Johnson (8) in the second period. Cooper Smith’s 8-yard run closed out the first-half scoring for the Cardinals.
Johnson and Logan Cloyd had scoring runs of 4 and 5 yards in the third quarter.
Johnson, whose TDs boosted his season totals to 22 and 132 points, also passed 1,000 yards rushing for the season with 84 — just 2 was needed — on 13 carries.
Smith was the rushing leader with 108 yards on 14 carries and Roderique added 72 on five carries.
Slaughter had three receptions for 55 yards and the Tigers’ Beau Allen snagged five for 49 yards.