WEBB CITY, Mo. — Ignited by a number of game-changing plays on the defensive side of the ball, top-seeded Webb City rolled to a 58-18 victory over fourth-seeded Willard on Friday night in a semifinal contest of the Class 4 District 6 tournament at Cardinal Stadium.
After a ninth straight win, Webb City (10-1) will host third-seeded Bolivar (11-0) in next Friday’s district title game. The Liberators topped second-seeded West Plains 36-21.
Ranked first in Class 4, Webb City surrendered an early score before scoring 44 unanswered points.
And it was the defense that provided a needed spark for the Cardinals throughout the one-sided first half, as a safety, a blocked punt and three interceptions, including a pick-6, allowed the Cardinals to put the game out of reach.
“When your defense is getting turnovers or scores, it really gives you momentum and helps out the offense,” Webb City coach John Roderique said. “Those interceptions were huge and made a big difference in the first half. It was a good night for our defense and our offense did some good things, too. We put the ball in the end zone quite a bit and it was just a good night for us.”
Webb City finished with 391 yards of offense, with 308 rushing and 83 passing.
Terrell Kabala ran eight times for 107 yards with two touchdowns to lead the Cardinals, while Devrin Weathers added 74 rushing yards on nine carries. Senior quarterback Kade Hicks ran for two scores and passed for another.
Willard (5-6) finished the night with 294 yards, with 205 through the air and 89 on the ground. The Tigers were limited to 126 yards in the first half.
“We weren’t too happy with how our defense played the last time we played them, allowing them to score 21 points,” Webb City senior linebacker Gavin Surber said. “We practiced hard this week and we made sure the turnout was better than last time.”
The Tigers scored on the second play from scrimmage, as Reece Dawson completed a 75-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Grayer.
“They executed there and they took advantage of our aggressiveness,” Roderique said.
But Webb City’s Trenten Thompson sacked Dawson in the end zone on the first play of Willard’s second drive for a safety.
“That was huge for us,” Roderique said. “It gave us the momentum.”
Kabala sprinted to a 45-yard touchdown at the 6:54 mark of the first quarter to put the Cardinals in front for good.
After Thompson blocked a punt, giving the hosts great field position, Webb City extended its lead when Gary Clinton hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Hicks.
Following an interception by Ruben Lenker, Hicks scored on a 24-yard quarterback keeper at the 6:28 mark of the second quarter.
The Cardinals weren’t done. Kabala charged into the end zone from three yards out before Surber’s 35-yard interception return a few plays later gave Webb City a comfy 37-6 lead.
“We were in man and I just followed what my coaches have taught me to do,” Surber said. “I broke on the ball and just went and got it.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Surber grabbed another interception on the next series, nearly recording a second pick-6, before Eli Goddard completed a 47-yard touchdown strike to Cale McCallister.
Willard’s starters scored a pair of late touchdowns against Webb City’s reserves before Hicks and Cade Wilson added late touchdown runs for the hosts, who will attempt to secure a 20th straight district crown next Friday.
“It feels good to get this win, but we’re going to prepare hard for next week and we’ll do what we have to do,” Surber said.