Republic Sports 10-11-2023

Kendell Curbow (13) dives to tackle Branson quarterback Luke McCormick (5).

Wyatt Woods (5) runs away from the defense on his way to the end zone during the first half of Republic’s 35-25 win over Branson. (Photos by Steve Rackley)

Mari Davidson teamed with Monica Henry for a doubles win during Republic’s district championship loss to Nixa. (Photo by David Brazeal)

Izzy Benson will attend her third state golf tournament at Silo Ridge in Bolivar next week. (Photo by Steve Rackley)

Republic Tiger football battles past pesky Branson for 6th win
Wyatt Woods accounted for five touchdowns, leading Republic to a 35–25 win over Branson Friday. Republic fell behind early, failing to score on its first four possessions, but rallied for its sixth win of the season.
Republic managed to put 35 points on the board despite difficulty running the ball between the tackles — the team’s usual offensive strength.
“We’ve just got to be better at the rest of our offense. That’s the key. When they take something away, whatever’s there we take advantage of, and I don’t think we did that very well,” Republic head coach Ryan Cornelsen said. “We broke Wyatt loose a couple times, but we’ve got to be more balanced than that.”
After Branson drove 97 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, Republic’s defense adjusted and shut down the Pirates’ triple option. Outside of the scoring drives, more than half of Branson’s plays in the first two quarters were for zero or negative yards.
Trailing 7–0, Garrett Lester set up Republic’s first score with a 57-yard kickoff return. Two plays later, Woods ran 25 yards for a touchdown, but Republic missed the extra point and trailed 7–6.
The defenses for both teams controlled the game until Republic finally took advantage of a turnover by the Pirates. Kendell Curbow recovered a fumble and returned it 26 yards to the 18-yard line. Three plays later, Woods scored on a five-yard touchdown run, and a two-point conversion by Daniel Phillips made the score 14–7. Branson scored on a field goal just before halftime to close the gap to 14–10.
Republic’s typical ball-control offense returned in the second half. The Tigers’ first drive of the third quarter went 80 yards in 16 plays, and it took more than eight minutes. The Tigers converted two fourth downs on the drive, including a three-yard touchdown pass from Woods to James Rexroat for another score. Woods was being dragged to the turf as he lobbed the ball to Rexroat in the back of the end zone. An extra point made the score 21–10.
After another defensive stop, Republic used 11 more plays to drive 72 yards and score another touchdown. Woods scored from five yards out to make it 28–10 with 7:34 remaining in the game.
Branson scored to cut the lead to 28–17, but Woods got loose on Republic’s next drive, running 76 yards for a touchdown to make the score 35–17. The Pirates scored another touchdown in the final minute, but Republic ran out the clock after that.
Republic out-gained Branson 364 yards to 296. The Tigers had 53 yards passing and 311 rushing. Woods rushed for 190 and four touchdowns. He was 3-for–7 passing the ball with a touchdown to Rexroat and two interceptions.
Caide White had 44 yards on 11 carries. Kanon Krol had 40 yards on 13 carries. Daniel Phillips carried it eight times for 37 yards. Rexroat had the one touchdown catch for three yards. Cory Craigmyle had a 42-yard reception, and Phillips caught the ball once for eight yards. Republic improves to 6–1, while Branson falls to 3–4. The Tigers will host 7–0 Nixa next week with a chance to move into a first-place tie atop the Central Ozark Conference.
Republic girls cross country finishes second in Branson
Gracie Troester earned her third consecutive win at Branson’s Cedar Ridge Invitational, winning with a time of 19:09.61. Troester finished 39 seconds ahead of Mackinzie Harris of Nixa, who placed second.
Five Republic runners finished in the top 20 in the girls race, as the Lady Tigers took second place overall. Kristin Probst finished fourth, Catherine Wilson was 12th, Mille Waterman finished 16th, and Misora Nambara finished 20th. Mei Pruitt finished 38th, as well.
Brady Purcell was the top finisher for the Republic boys, who took ninth place as a team. William Payne finished 28th. Kaisei Wilcutt and Gabe Benjamin finished 10 seconds apart, at 56th and 61st. Dak Henning was 77th and Hayden Mitchell was 79th.
Benson makes third state golf tournament trip
Republic junior Izzy Benson has earned a third trip to the state golf tournament in three seasons. Benson shot an 86 to finish 13th at Payne Stewart Golf Course in Springfield, earning all-district honors. Rainy weather in the morning caused play to begin after noon, but Benson fought through the wet conditions to earn a spot at the Class 4 state tournament to be held Oct. 16-17 at Silo Ridge Country Club in Bolivar.
Republic volleyball splits COC decisions
The Republic volleyball team fell short in a showdown with Central Ozark Conference implications, losing to Nixa in four sets at home Tuesday. Nixa took advantage of a 12–3 run in the first set to establish control and never trailed after that. Brooklyn Claxton earned her 1,000th career assist during the loss.
Republic rebounded with a win over Webb City on the road Thursday. Rilynn Finley led the Lady Tigers with 20 kills. Lexi Mitchell and Finley led the defense with 12 digs each. Finley also contributed three blocks at the net.
Republic finished the week 21–5.
Republic softball ends regular season with win streak; districts ahead
The Republic softball team won three straight games to finish the regular season, including a Central Ozark Conference win at Ozark, 5–3. Sammi Watson hit two doubles and Lilli Richerson drove in two runs to lead Republic.
Friday at Lebanon, Republic finished its work in only three innings, beating the Yellowjackets 15–0. Jenna Belcher returned to the lineup after missing several games with an injury, and she made her mark with a home run. An eight-run third inning for Republic put the game away.
Monday, Republic traveled to Seneca for a 6–5 win in nine innings. Belcher homered again, and Republic recovered after losing a four-run lead late in the game. In the top of the ninth, Watson singled home Richerson with the eventual winning run.
Republic (3) will open district play at home Thursday against Lebanon (6).
Republic tennis season ends in district title match

Republic’s tennis season ended with a 5–3 loss to top-seeded Nixa in the district championship. The third-seeded Lady Tigers had beaten Lebanon, the second seed, in the semifinals, to earn a spot in the championship.
The Lady Tigers had lost to Nixa 5–4 in an earlier meeting, and fell just short again during their district match at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield. Coach David Smashey said his team continued to improve as the season went on.
“We just got better and better, both physically and in our understanding of the game — but also just taking care of each other and rooting for each other. We really came together here toward the end, and we played our best tennis today,” Smashey said. “I would say the second-best match we played all year was earlier in the year (against Nixa). This is probably the best match we played all year. And we just came up just short against a really good Nixa team.”


Lawrence County Record

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Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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