Joplin bounces back with win over Republic

Oct. 1—The Joplin Eagles focused up for practice all week long.

Coming off a 49-35 setback to Central Ozark Conference rival Nixa, Joplin knew the energy had to be there in practice.

"We knew we had to get a bounce back win," Eagles junior rusher Quin Renfro said.

Ranked No. 6 in Class 6, Joplin did not disappoint. The Eagles (5-1) bounced back with a 42-28 triumph over Republic on Friday night at Junge Field.

"We played hard. Every single person on this field played hard," Renfro said. "That's what happens when Joplin plays hard — we win — and that was the end result."

Joplin came out on fire in the second half, spearheaded by the running of Renfro. The junior had runs of 12, 9, 22 and capped the drive with a 29-yard TD run as the Eagles took a 20-7 lead over Republic with 10:45 to play.

It was just in the first half when Renfro was held to 12 yards on four carries.

"In the first half, I had a little talk with myself," Renfro said. "I was like, 'I got locked up in the first half.' I told myself, 'Hey, you are going to come out here in the second half and do your thing. You will show them who No. 3 is.' I felt like that's what I did."

The Tigers responded with a 74-yard scoring drive, punctuated by a 12-yard TD scamper from quarterback Wyatt Woods, to trim the deficit back to six at the 8:54 mark.

However, Joplin quickly countered. A 44-yard reception to tight end Whit Hafer set up a short 2-yard rushing score from Drew VanGilder to extend the Eagle lead to 27-14 with 6:16 to play.

Woods added a 7-run TD run just before the end of the third quarter, cutting Republic's deficit back to six.

But the Eagles went almost exclusively smashmouth on the ensuing drive. Renfro scored his third TD of the night on a 1-yard run and picked up a two-point conversion as Joplin took a 35-21 lead with 8:54 to go.

Renfro's run was set up by a 27-yard run from sophomore Davin Thomas.

After forcing a turnover on downs, Joplin got on the scoreboard two minutes later. All VanGilder needed was one play to go 24 yards to the house as the Eagles pulled in front 42-21 with 6:55 left.

Daniel Phillips accounted for Republic's final offense, a 8-yard TD run with 51 seconds left in the game.

"At first, I felt like we had to get used to the speed at which they did things," Joplin coach Curtis Jasper said. "I thought we did have a good week of preparation this week in practice, but it took a second for us to get used to their speed. A couple of series in we were able to get rolling. Once we did that, the guys up front were extremely physical."

It was a slow start to Friday night's ballgame for both sides as there were four punts alone in the opening quarter.

Republic showed signs of life as it started the second quarter with a long, methodical drive. But the Tigers' Woods fumbled the ball at the Joplin 22 with 9:36 left in the first half.

The Eagles capitalized on the ensuing possession with a 78-yard drive, capped by a 28-yard touchdown run from Terrance Gibson off a reverse just over two minutes later.

Joplin's defense then put the clamps down, forcing Republic to go three-and-out on the ensuing drive. The Eagles' Noah Soriano also blocked the Tigers punt and gave Joplin the ball at the Republic 15. And Joplin scored right away.

That set up a 15-yard TD pass from quarterback Hobbs Gooch to Renfro on a wheel route, giving the Eagles a 13-0 lead with 5:31 to play in the first half. Joe Ipsen's PAT was no good.

Republic found the scoreboard just before halftime. Woods rolled to his right and threw across his body, connecting with wide receiver James Rexroat for a 5-yard TD score with time expired as the Tigers trimmed the deficit to six.

In the first half, the Tigers outgained the Eagles 137-104 in total yards of offense.

"Republic is a good team," Jasper said. "They do a really good job up front with their blocking scheme. They did a really good job in the first half defending them. We gave our offense a chance to get going and we got a good win tonight."

Joplin ran 41 plays for 291 yards. Gooch completed 9 of 14 passes for 157 yards and a TD, while Renfro ran the ball 15 times for 99 yards and caught a 15-yard pass.

He finished with three TDs (one pass) on the night.

Gibson hauled in three passes for 41 yards and had a 28-yard run for TD, while Thomas had three passes for 45 yards. VanGilder added 24 yards on the ground in four attempts with one TD.

Woods completed 11 of 17 passes for Republic with 155 yards and one TD. He ran the ball 13 times for 35 yards and one score.

Rexroat finished with four catches for 87 yards and one TD, while Kanon Krol led the ground attack with 18 carries for 72 yards.

Joplin hosts Carl Junction next Friday night for Homecoming.

"We still have a lot of things we have to get better at," Jasper said. "I don't want to look ahead, but Class 6 competition is really good. We want to accomplish the goals we want to accomplish. There's a lot of things we have to get better at. First is Carl Junction. That's always a fun game because (Doug) Buckmaster and some of those other guys coached here. We all know each other really well."