Tigers hold on, beat Carthage in season opener; next game this Thursday

Kanon Krol (8) fights off a tackler during Friday's win over Carthage. (Photo submitted)

Republic’s football team continued to break new ground with a 20–14 win over Carthage in the 2023 season opener. It was the first win over Carthage in program history, just months after ending decades of frustration against another conference opponent, Webb City. And it signaled to the rest of the Central Ozark Conference that Republic is a legitimate contender in 2023.

In Friday’s game, the defense came up with the big plays down the stretch, forcing incompletions on two Carthage pass plays from the five-yard line as time ran out. A touchdown would have tied the score and given Carthage an opportunity to win it with an extra point.

Fullback Kanon Krol stood out with 122 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Defensively, Keegan Hunt and Cole Gimlin each recovered a fumble, while Garrett Lester notched a key interception, setting up Krol’s second score.

Republic’s Coach Ryan Cornelsen said he didn’t over-complicate his instructions during the final series.
“You try to stay basic and let them just play and not overthink. We had a lot of new guys, so trying to make adjustments was tough, but I thought they did a good job. … They made the last play, and that was good,” he said.

The first half was quiet, with Carthage scoring less than a minute before halftime to take a 7–0 lead. Republic had previously missed a scoring chance due to a fumbled snap in the red zone. But on its final drive of the half, Carthage used a 70-yard pass from Brady Carlton to Langston Morgan to set up a touchdown by Landyn Collins, followed by a successful extra point.

Republic responded quickly in the second half, tying the game on its first drive. Krol accounted for 61 of the 63 yards in the drive. On Republic’s next drive, a 35-yard run by Daniel Phillips put Republic ahead for the first time.

Republic extended its lead to 20–7 after Lester’s interception gave them favorable field position. A four-play, 23-yard drive ended in Krol’s second touchdown, although the extra point was blocked.

Carthage narrowed the gap to 20–14 with less than seven minutes remaining. Despite a final drive that brought them within five yards of the end zone, Carthage couldn’t convert, allowing time to expire and sparking a Republic celebration.

“We’re going to enjoy a win, and those are tough to come by in this league,” Cornelsen said.

Wyatt Woods rushed 11 times for 79 yards, and Daniel Phillips had 49 yards on four carries. Woods completed only one pass for 10 yards to James Rexroat.

For Carthage, Carlton threw for 200 yards and ran for 76 more on 13 attempts. Overall, Carthage out-gained Republic 344 to 282 yards, but Republic had the edge in rushing with 272 yards.

Republic starts the season 1–0 and looks ahead to a matchup against Ozark this week. The game will be played on Thursday because a shortage of available officials forced some games to be moved off their usual Friday slots.


Lawrence County Record

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