EXCELSIOR SPRINGS — Senior fullback Corbin Cowick, listed at 5-foot-10, 200 lbs, is more akin to a bowling ball when carrying the football, running through opposing defenders than Warrensburg’s other backs, who can run around the opposition.
“It’s more aggressive,” Cowick said on his running style. “I’d say I have more strength than I do speed, so I try and use that.”
Not that Cowick doesn’t have speed. He was apart of the Tigers 2018 state medaling 4x100m team as a junior.
In the wake of Miles Moore’s injury in week seven, which left the Tigers star back in street clothes on Friday, Oct. 18, Warrensburg drew up a game plan to get Cowick the ball.
“We put in the power play this week, which we haven’t run here,” Warrensburg coach Chris Cavanah said. “We told them power is a mindset. That we are going to out physical our opponent and I thought our guys did that.”
The goal with power was simply to kick out the opposition’s defensive end to give Cowick a lane to run.
“That’s a real forceful play,” Cowick said. “Not so much cutting and that’s me.”
Cowick found plenty of room to run, racking up 195 yards and two touchdowns, including the eventual game-winning score in Warrensburg’s 33-27 win over Excelsior Springs.
“We’ve told our guys all year that great teams find a way to win and our guys did that tonight,” Cavanah said. “We made the plays we needed to make at big moments.”
Crucial plays in key moments highlighted the second half.
Trailing 21-14 in the third quarter, Warrensburg got a fourth down stop at its own 14-yard line, forcing loose a fumble that was recovered by junior Cooper Berry.
Warrensburg escaped the shadow its own goal posts with a third and 14 conversion. The visiting Tigers attempted a running back pass off of a reverse, which fell incomplete, but the drive was kept alive on a roughing the passer call.
Warrensburg would make the most of its new life. The Tigers converted another third and long with a 25-yard completion from Eli Nappe to Cory Conley to set up a 42-yard touchdown run by Shelby Pittsenbarger to get within a point, 21-20, after a failed point after attempt.
The WHS defense came through again on the following series as Connor Wyatt ripped the ball out of the Excelsior Springs runner’s hands to give Warrensburg the ball just 35 yards from the end zone.
Cowick found the end zone for the first time on the night with a five-yard plow through the Excelsior Springs defense at the 11 minutes, 30 seconds mark of the fourth quarter, putting Warrensburg in front for the first time since the second quarter, 26-21, after a second missed PAT.
Following another defensive stop by Warrensburg, Cowick got back to work.
The senior showed off his skill set, breaking through the initial wave of Excelsior Springs defenders then bursting out for a 62-yard touchdown sprint to give the visiting Tigers a two-score cushion, 33-21, with 7:37 left.
“I would give a game ball to our offensive line today,” Cavanah said. “We played really well up front.”
Warrensburg racked up 329 yards on the ground without its leading rusher Moore, who Cavanah said they are approaching on a day-to-day basis.
“We are hoping to get him back, but we’ve shown we can win while he is recuperating,” Cavanah said. “When we get him back, we’ll be ready to roll.”
Pittsenbarger added 79 yards rushing while Nappe gained 55 yards to go along with Cowick’s 195.
Excelsior Springs would make things interesting in the final 2:22 of play.
The home Tigers drove 69 yards in 2:01 to get within a touchdown, 33-27, on a Brandon Gluhm run.
Warrensburg put the game to bed by recovering the ensuing onside kick to move to 6-2 on the season and 2-2 in MRVC West play.
Warrensburg got out to a fast start, stuffing the Excelsior Springs run game on the opening drive of the night, then parlayed the stop into a three-yard touchdown run for Nappe to take a 7-0 lead at the 5:46 mark of the first frame.
Excelsior Springs answered with a three-yard touchdown run of its own, taken in by Tanner Phillips, to knot the game at 7-7.
Warrensburg broke the tie at the 5:10 mark of the second quarter with a one-yard dive by Nappe for his second score. Pittsenbarger set up the score with a 33-yard slither through the Excelsior Springs defense.
Gluhm notched his first score of the night for Excelsior Springs on the home Tigers next possession, sneaking through the Warrensburg defense for a 55-yard score.
“What makes them tough is they control the time of possession and you know that you’re going to have limited possessions coming into the game and you have to capitalize on all of them,” Cavanah said.
Warrensburg couldn’t answer Excelsior Springs’ game-tying score, punting the ball away for the first time on the night with 1:39 left in the half.
Controversy ensued when Wyatt appeared to have forced and recovered what would have been his first fumble of the night to give Warrensburg the ball back with 1:19 left.
The officiating crew eventually overturned the call, stating the runner was down before the fumble.
Excelsior Springs turned the extra life into a halftime lead with Gluhm keeping it himself on an option play from 12-yard out, going into the intermission up 21-14.
Warrensburg will cap off the regular season on the road at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, at Oak Grove. The Panthers are coming off a 20-17 loss to Harrisonville.