REPUBLIC, Mo. – It is no secret that the Webb City Cardinals can run the football.
The Cardinals averaged 354 yards on the ground in their first two games, but it was the passing game that sparked an early offensive onslaught in a 49-28 victory over Republic on Friday night in a Central Ozark Conference contest.
Webb City coach John Roderique called three pass plays in the first five snaps for the Cardinals. Senior Cole Gayman made the most of the opportunities, finding Cohl Vaden for a 37-yard touchdown pass just two minutes into the game. Vaden had missed the Cardinals' first two games because of injury.
“Overall, I feel the best about how we threw the ball tonight,” Roderique said. “We did some different things, and we were very deliberate about it coming into the game. One thing we understand is that if we can’t throw the football, we aren’t going to be a great football team.”
The Cardinals (2-1) entered the game with just two completions on nine attempts but were very effective Friday night. Gayman was 6-for-8 for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
The game was fast and furious in first half with the scoring coming early and often for both teams.
After Gayman’s first touchdown pass opened the scoring, Republic (2-1) wasted little time answering the challenge. A 58-yard completion from Gavyn Beckner to Landon Porter set up the Tigers at the 1-yard line, and Avery Moody plunged into the end zone two plays later.
Shane Noel returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to put Webb City back up, but Beckner found Porter again for an 85-yard touchdown to tie the game 14-all midway through the opening quarter.
From there, a pair of touchdown runs from Devrin Weathers (4 and 50 yards) put the Cardinals on top for good. Weathers added a 60-yard scoring run and finished with eight carries for 126 yards and three touchdowns. The Kansas State-commit is averaging over 12 yards per carry through the first three games.
With a comfortable lead, Roderique was able to get valuable playing time for a number of players. Eight different Cardinals carried the ball and racked up a total of 298 yards rushing.
“One thing that we have always does is when given the opportunity. we are always going to play young guys and give them opportunities to play,” Roderique said. “I think that does a lot for your program. The guys who are seniors had those opportunities when they were younger, and we have a lot of really unselfish kids when it comes to playing time.”
While the scoreboard was certainly in Webb City’s favor, Roderique saw too many instances that can be improved on.
“You don’t feel near as good about yourself,” he said. “I honestly didn’t feel very good about our defense in the first half. Misreads, missed tackles and big plays. Those are things your can’t do and be successful.”
Webb City returns home next week to tackle Carthage (3-0), while the Tigers travel to Nixa (3-0).