LAMAR, Mo. – They say defense wins championships.
Scoring in bunches helps, too, and that’s just what Lamar did Friday night as the Tigers’ defense keyed a 47-0 halftime lead en route to a 53-6 win over Sarcoxie in the Class 2 District 4 championship game inside Thomas M. O’Sullivan Stadium.
Lamar (9-1), which secured its 13th consecutive district title, plays next Saturday at Liberty-Mountain View, which defeated Fair Grove 44-20 in its district final.
Lamar held Sarcoxie (6-5) to 56 yards of offense, all on the ground, in the first half as the Tigers forced the Bears into two turnovers, a turnover on downs and four punts.
“Our defensive staff has found a groove with our kids,” Lamar coach Jared Beshore said. “The kids have completely bought in defensively in what it takes to be successful. Everyone’s doing their job, and when everyone does their job, good things happen.”
Lamar stopped Sarcoxie on the Bears’ opening drive, forcing a punt. After a 17-yard punt return from Joel Beshore, the Tigers wasted little time getting on the board. A 34-yard pass from Case Tucker to Logan Crockett started a drive that was capped by a seven-yard touchdown run from Crockett for the game’s opening score.
Tucker gobbled up a fumble on a missed pitchout on the Bears’ next drive, putting Lamar on the Sarcoxie 30-yard line. One play later Tucker hit Mason Gastel for a 30-yard passing score to make the score 13-0 with 6:38 left in the first quarter.
Tucker started and finished the next drive, picking off a pass from Sarcoxie quarterback Jaron Malotte and returning it 21 yards before later scoring on an 11-yard dive into the end zone to make the score 19-0.
Lamar got rushing touchdowns from Austin Wilkerson, two from Crockett and one from Tucker as the Tigers led 47-0 at halftime.
Sarcoxie picked up its only score as time expired in the third quarter with a one-yard run from Justin Mandera.
Lamar added a late tally as sophomore Terrill Davis scored on a seven-yard run.
Crockett and Tucker fueled the offense in the first half. Crockett had 113 yards on three carries and three scores, while also picking up a 34-yard reception. Tucker had 75 yards rushing and two touchdowns while throwing for 83 yards and a score.
“Logan (Crockett) is a kid who has grown so much, not only physically, but as a kid into a young man,” Beshore said. “He expects a lot from himself and demands a lot of himself. When you have high expectations, a lot of times you get high results.”
Defensively Robert Lawrence finished with six tackles, while Ryland Wooldridge and Blaine Shaw had five and three stops each.
Sarcoxie finished the game with 105 yards of total offense, all on the ground. Coach Russell Ellis talked positively about his team’s season this year.
“I’m so proud of our kids,” Ellis said. "We started out 0-3 and we had some significant injuries to some key spots. Our kids did a great job of sticking together and going on a little run here at the end of the year. They showed a lot of high character. There were plenty of opportunities for them to lay down and they just refused to do that.”