STANBERRY, Mo. — The Stanberry Bulldogs came into the night 10-0 as the number one team in 8-man. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, their first loss of the season is the one that ended their season.
Stanberry hosted defending state champion, Worth County, for the second time in three weeks. The Bulldogs defeated the Tigers in their first matchup, but Worth County was the victor Friday night, 32-20.
Stanberry grabbed the momentum from the opening kick when running back Trey Schieber took it back for a touchdown. It looked like the game may be a shootout after the Tigers answered on the ensuing drive with a 30-yard touchdown run by running back Andrew Alarcon.
The teams came into the game with two of the top defenses in 8-man and those defenses showed throughout the first half. The Bulldogs moved the ball past midfield on their second drive, but a sack on third down from Jackson Anderson forced a long fourth down for Stanberry. Anderson finished the game with two sacks.
“Those sacks felt pretty good, except the ground was pretty hard, I mean hitting that ground hurt,” Anderson said. “But it was still a great feeling.”
Worth County moved the ball down inside the Bulldogs’ 20 on its next drive. But the Stanberry defense did its part on the drive and forced a turnover on downs on the Tigers’ fourth and four run that came up short.
The Bulldog offense was unable to capitalize on the opportunity and punted to end the first quarter. That would be the last lead of the game for Stanberry as running back Caleb Parman took the first snap of the second quarter 50 yards for a Worth County touchdown.
“Ground and pound, we’ve been working really hard at hitting the ball up the middle,” Parman said. “I think we did a pretty good job tonight.”
Stanberry’s offense ran the ball well in the first matchup, but had no answers this time around. The Bulldogs converted two fourth downs and worked their way down to the Worth County eight yard line. But for the second time in the first half, an Anderson sack pushed them back and forced a fourth and goal from the 25. Quarterback Cole Durbin’s scramble left the Bulldogs well short of the end zone.
“Defensively we played just as well as the last game, but this time we were able to get off the field on fourth down,” Worth County coach Chris Healy said.
The Tigers found the endzone once again late in the second quarter. Worth County took over at the Stanberry 35 and a 20-yard run by quarterback Jacob New set the Tigers up inside the Bulldogs 15 yard line. But the Bulldog defense didn’t go down without a fight. Stanberry had the Tigers with a fourth and three, but an offsides penalty gave Worth County a first down. The Bulldogs again held strong, and forced the Tigers to have to convert another fourth down from the one — and they did just that with a quarterback sneak for a touchdown from New.
Stanberry responded quickly after halftime. Durbin brought the Bulldogs to within four with a 45-yard touchdown run. Durbin was held in check for most of the game to that point after rushing for 165 yards against the Tigers in their previous matchup.
Worth County immediately pushed the lead back out to 10 on its next drive, but it took a little trickery. Bryant McCord returned the kickoff to the Stanberry 35, but the offense struggled to move the ball from there. That is when a Tiger offense that is normally very vanilla, called a wide receiver pass. McCord connected with Parman for a 25-yard touchdown.
Stanberry failed to convert a fourth down on its next drive and then was unable to do anything with a fumble recovery inside Worth County territory. The Tigers were able to ice the game as McCord’s big second half continued. New found McCord for 13 yards on a third and 12 and then the two finished the drive by connecting for a 30-yard touchdown. McCord finished the game with four catches for 60 yards and one receiving touchdown.
The Bulldogs tried to make things interesting late in the fourth quarter. Stanberry moved the ball down inside the Worth County 20 and then finished the drive with a touchdown pass from Durbin to Collin Sager on fourth and five. The Bulldogs then attempted and converted an onside kick. But Worth County ended any hopes of a comeback with its third sack of the game on fourth-and-four.
Worth County finished the game with 280 rushing yards on 49 carries. Parman led with 134 yards and Alarcon finished with 116. The Tigers had 101 passing yards on just eight attempts. But Healy was most impressed with the big men up front.
“Our guys up front worked hard in the offseason, worked hard to get to this point, so we were going to ride them,” Healy said. “Especially with conditions like this, you know you’ve got a frozen tundra, so we were proud of those guys up front.”
The Worth County defense did more than its fair share against the Stanberry offense, holding it to just 127 yards of total offense.
“We know we have a good defense and we just had to hold them and that’s what we did tonight,” Anderson said. “We held them and they couldn’t get anything off of us.”
Worth County will need another strong performance next week against a high-powered Pattonsburg offense. Pattonsburg got the best of the Tigers back in early October in a 62-42 win.
“Everyone just needs to stay healthy and do their jobs,” Parman said. “If everyone does their job, everything will go smoothly.”