By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
The Joplin Crusaders closed out the regular season in style on Saturday night.
Kenny Ray Session Jr. rushed for four touchdowns to help the Crusaders hurdle the Lincoln-based Nebraska Renegades 46-8 in Fred G. Hughes Stadium at Missouri Southern State University.
The Crusaders, 8-0, will be idle until the second round of the non-pro Central Football League playoffs.
The Crusaders’ regular-season title secured home field throughout the playoffs.
“The first half was competitive,” Joplin head coach Dave Pitts said on Sunday. “We kind of took over in the second half.
“The Renegades had good team speed,” Pitts said. “They had a good running back — small but quick — who was hurt early in the game. He returned kicks, too. The injury may have been a deep thigh bruise. He didn’t return.”
Session rushed just 10 times in picking up 119 yards.
Said Joplin offensive coordinator Brenden Gubera: “Kenny Ray obviously is a nice player whom we’re glad he’s on our side. He’s smooth and so explosive. He’s the total package.”
Joplin led 14-0 after one period on Session’s 18-yard run, Matt Thompson’s conversion pass to Matt Rice and Session’s 10-yard carry.
Session opened scoring in the second quarter on a 38-yard run before the Renegades scored on a 12-yard run and conversion pass.
Joplin made it 26-8 before intermission on Thompson’s 39-yard pass to John Davis.
Second-half Joplin TDs were provided by Sam Sturgis (20-yard pass from Steve Hamilton, Session (11-yard run) and Rice (28-yard pass from Robert Lockett). Also, Junior Martinez kicked two extra points.
Said Gubera: “We were sluggish to start the game. One reason for that was we were working on some things for the playoffs. We played well from the middle of the second quarter.”
The Crusaders overall had 189 rushing yards and 235 passing for 424.
Thompson finished nine of 15 for 128 yards through the air and added 33 on the ground. Rice had five receptions for 84 yards.
Defensively, Walter Coleman and Blu Cato had interceptions for Joplin. Antwan Dyer and Clevon Williams recovered fumbles.