WEBB CITY, Mo. — It was a statement win for the Webb City High School football team in the battle of the border on Friday night, as the Cardinals advanced to 4-0 on the season with a 34-13 win over Pittsburg.
The Purple Dragons went into the game having won the first two games of the season at home, but didn’t fair as well on the road against a Cardinals team which was clicking on all cylinders.
Webb City jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 20-yard touchdown pass, after forcing the Purple Dragons into a three-and-out in the opening drive of the series.
PHS tied the score at 7-all in the next possession on a one-yard run by Chase Curtis with just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The scoring play was set up by a 57-yard pass from Curtis to Zach Sutton.
Webb City took over on its own 20-yard line following the touchdown and advanced into PHS territory, but Joel Kafka came up with an interception to give the Purple Dragons the ball at their own 35-yard line.
The Purple Dragons capitalized on the turnover, as the Curtis connected with Dylan White on a 61-yard touchdown pass to take the lead at 13-7 with one minute remaining in the first quarter.
A low tackle by Webb City to Pittsburg’s kicker Nathan Neef during the point-after attempt moved the ball closer to the goal line and sent Neef limping off to the sideline.
The Purple Dragons attempted to go for the two-point conversion following the injury, but came up short, keeping the lead at six points.
White did the honors of kicking off to the Cardinals, but Neef later reentered the game.
Webb City took over on its own 32-yard line and broke off a 43-yard run down to the PHS 25-yard line on the first play of the drive.
The Cardinals capped off the quick, four-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown run and took the lead at 14-13 with a successful extra-point attempt.
Webb City went on to score two more touchdowns before halftime to extend the lead to 28-13.
The game began to get away from Pittsburg, as the Cardinals received the ball to begin the second half and marched 75 yards in 14 plays and took seven minutes off the clock, scoring on a three-yard touchdown run to cushion the lead to 34-13.
PHS found an offensive rhythm after receiving the kickoff and moved into Webb City territory on a 21-yard run by Brandis Evans.
The Purple Dragons advanced the ball down to the Webb City 22-yard line on an 18-yard pass from Curtis to Evans and continued to inch down to the two-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs after coming up short on fourth-and-goal.
Webb City’s quarterback dropped back to pass on the first play of the new drive despite the field position and threw an interception to Ty Roark, who was brought down at the six-yard line.
Another impressive stop by the Cadinals’ defense kept the Purple Dragons short of the goal line on all four plays, giving them the ball on their own one-yard line.
The Cardinals worked themselves out of the shadows of their own end zone and nearly scored on a 73-yard pass, but a shoe-lace tackle by Jhalani Long stopped the ball carrier from crossing the goal line.
With Webb City knocking on the door halfway through the fourth quarter, Drew Roelfs intercepted a pass in the endzone to give the Purple Dragons the ball on their own 20-yard line with five minutes remaining.
Pittsburg ran 12 plays in the drive, but couldn’t score again before the game was over.
The Purple Dragons will hit the road to take on Fort Scott at 7 p.m. on Friday.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.