Republic Tiger Wyatt Woods (5) displays the district championship trophy as his teammates celebrate Friday night’s victory. (Photos by Steve Rackley)

Republic’s Caide White secures a touchdown catch in the second half Friday night against Lebanon.

Republic knocks off top-seeded Lebanon to secure district championship
For the first time in this century, Republic is headed to a state football quarterfinal. The Tigers never trailed but held off a late rally by top-seeded Lebanon to win their district championship game on the road Friday, 35-32. It’s the first district championship for Republic since 2005, and the first quarterfinal appearance since 1995.
It wasn’t easy, even after Republic held a 10-point lead with just three minutes remaining, 35-25. The Lebanon offense scored a touchdown with a little over a minute left in the game to pull within three points, then recovered an onside kick. But with the game on the line, Republic’s defense brought the heat to Lebanon quarterback Gavin Smith. Kendell Curbow sacked Smith, Cole Gimlin tackled him in the open field to shut down a designed run play, and Braydin Casey hit him as he threw to stop a third-down pass attempt. On fourth down, a long pass sailed over the receiver’s head and landed incomplete, allowing Republic to run out the clock.
It was an onside kick by Republic to start the second half that swung the momentum back to the Tigers and made the difference in the game. Tied 14-14, Republic recovered the kick to open the half, then took advantage by scoring a touchdown to regain the lead. Curbow recovered the kick, and Wyatt Woods scored on a one-yard touchdown run, followed by a Mason Cole extra point to put Republic up 21-14.
After Lebanon kicked a field goal on its next possession to pull within 21-17, Republic grabbed its biggest lead of the night. A 16-yard touchdown pass from Woods to Caide White made the score 28-17.
The Yellowjackets responded with a touchdown and a two-point conversion, pulling to within three points at 28-25, but the Tigers scored again on a five-yard run by Kanon Krol with 2:58 remaining. They led 35-25 going into the wild final three minutes.
The first half had featured back-and-forth plays, beginning with Republic’s first drive. Woods scored from six yards out and Cole kicked the extra point to make it 7-0. Lebanon answered in less than a minute with a 67-yard run by Smith, evening the score. Kanon Krol helped the Tigers retake the lead on the next possession — first by running for 50 yards to get deep into Lebanon territory, then by capping the drive on a three-yard touchdown. That made it 14-7. Republic had a chance to take control when Garrett Lester forced Lebanon’s Jax Glendenning to fumble near the goal line and Cam Allen picked it up to run it the other way. But penalties stymied the Tigers’ drive and they had to punt the ball away, setting up Lebanon’s game-tying score just before halftime.
Republic advances to the state quarterfinals Saturday. The Tigers will host Jefferson City Helias (10-1) at 1 p.m.


Lawrence County Record

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