Republic rolls Willard to advance to district final on gridiron this Friday

Republic receiver James Rexroat (6) leaps high to catch a pass during Republic’s win over Willard. (Photo by Steve Rackley)

Caide White celebrates a touchdown in the first half. (Photo by Steve Rackley)

Garrett Lester breaks up a pass in Republic’s district win against Willard. (Photo by Steve Rackley)

Republic played its way back into a second consecutive district championship game Friday, with a 35–14 win at home against Willard. The Republic defense held Willard without a yard of offense in the first quarter to set the tone.
While Willard was forced to punt on its first three possessions, Republic built a 14–0 lead. Wyatt Woods scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter and Caide White scored early in the second quarter to put Republic in the driver’s seat.
“The (defensive) coaches had a good plan,” said head coach Ryan Cornelsen. “They had them coached up and ready to go, and it was really the same plan we had the first time. (Willard) kind of went more through the air than what I expected. I thought they’d run it a little bit more, but it was a good showing by our defense for sure.”
Willard got on the board in the second quarter, scoring on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Russell Roweton to Chaz Amodeo to make the score 14–7. But Republic drove down the field in a little over three minutes to regain the momentum. With 12 seconds left in the half, Woods scored from a yard out to take a 21–7 lead into halftime.
Woods was injured on his touchdown run, but continued to play in the second half. Other players in the offense picked up the slack with Woods banged up.
“I was probably the most proud of…the other backs around him,” Cornelsen said. “The other three backs really stepped up, and that’s as hard as I’ve seen them run.”
A 45-yard pass from Woods to James Rexroat on Republic’s first drive of the second half set up White’s second touchdown of the night, on a nine-yard run. That put Republic on top 28–7.
After Willard got another touchdown and a defensive stop, Republic linebacker Kendell Curbow made one of the biggest plays of the night, picking off a pass from Roweton to snuff out another potential scoring drive by Willard. The Republic offense responded with a 45-yard touchdown drive, scoring on White’s third touchdown of the night. That made the score 35–14, where it ended.
Republic rushed for 281 yards on 52 carries, and all four running backs had 35-plus yards. Woods led the team with 94 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Kanon Krol also carried the ball 18 times, for 88 yards. White had nine carries, 61 yards, and three TDs. Daniel Phillips carried the ball seven times for 38 yards.
Willard, after failing to gain any yardage in the first quarter, finished with 213 yards total — 151 passing by Roweton and only 62 on the ground.
Republic will play in the district championship game for the second year in a row. The Tigers will travel to Lebanon to face the top-seeded Yellowjackets. Lebanon edged Branson 42–35 in the other semifinal game.


Lawrence County Record

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