In these days of high-flying offenses that roll up huge yards and points, Carl Junction’s defense turned in a gem last week.
The Bulldogs yielded only five first downs — two by rush, two by pass, one by penalty — in their 28-21 home victory over Republic.
“Our defense played wonderful the whole night,” coach Doug Buckmaster said. “We hurt ourselves a couple of times on special teams ... a kickoff return for a touchdown and a punt that was returned to the 15-yard line, and they scored off of that.
“Republic does some good things scheme-wise. For our kids to completely shut down their rushing game for the most part ... most of the rushing yards that they did have, which was not very many, came on quarterback scrambles from being pressured and taking off and running with the football. The passing game, we gave up one big play at the beginning of the fourth quarter when they had the ball at the 1-yard line and connected for a 50-yard gain on a deep route down the sideline. Other than that, we were outstanding defensively.”
Inside linebacker Noah Southern led the Bulldogs with 10 solo and 14 total tackles last week. He’s registered double-figure tackles in every game this season and has 82 for the season. Safety Jack Colgin had nine tackles, and inside linebacker Gabe Lyon made eight tackles.
Jesse Cassatt is second on the team with 47 tackles, and Colgin and Hunter Row have 43 and 41, respectively.
The Bulldog defense faces a big challenge in tonight’s game at Nixa. Kickoff is at 7.
Nixa (6-1) averaged 40 points per game before last week’s 28-0 setback at Webb City.
“The big noticeable difference is how they play offensively,” Buckmaster said. “They are a talented bunch. There’s a lot of athleticism on that team.
“I think there is a renewed enthusiasm with the kids there at Nixa. Their kids are playing very hard on both sides of the ball. You can definitely see that.”
The Bulldogs (3-4) have won their last two games and average 112 rushing yards and 239 passing yards.
Quarterback Alex Baker has completed exactly 60% of his passes — 90-of-150 for 1,209 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. His top trio of targets are Southern (28 catches for 418 yards), Cole Stewart (23 for 414) and Drew Patterson (15 for 205).
Brady Sims leads the ground attack with 78 carries for 409 yards. He was a workhorse last week with 32 carries for 178 yards, and Baker hit 13-of-28 passes for 211 yards.