WARRENSBURG — Warrensburg went scoreless on its first two possessions against Smith-Cotton on Friday, Sept. 13, but those paying close attention would have seen the seeds of an offensive explosion being planted.
Warrensburg junior quarterback Eli Nappe took three shots down the field to open receivers on the first two drives, but all three passes sailed just out of the reach of their intended targets.
“We thought we had it, we just had to get Eli to settle in and we knew he would and once he did, we thought we could put some points on the board,” Warrensburg coach Chris Cavanah said.
Nappe dialed in his arm for the remainder of the night, throwing for three touchdowns and 138 yards — both season-highs — in Warrensburg’s 48-0 blowout of the rival Tigers at Walton Stadium.
“We went in with the game plan that we could throw the ball,” Cavanah said. “Started off a little shaky, but once we settled in we were able to have some success in the air.”
Warrensburg (3-0) opened the scoring in its typical fashion — on the ground. Junior Shelby Pittsenbarger took a carry 51-yards to give the maroon-and-white Tigers a 7-0 lead at the two minutes, 14 seconds mark of the first quarter.
Nappe connected with senior Miles Moore for the first passing touchdown of the night from 38-yards out, threading the ball through the hands of a Smith-Cotton defender for the score.
The junior signal caller added his final two touchdown on the next two possessions, hitting Pittsenbarger on an 18-yard strike and an unguarded Moore for 35 yards and a touchdown, to extend the lead to 28-0, a score that would stand until halftime.
“Coach Cav (Cavanah) has been scouting their defense for a while and saw the blank spots in their defense, so he drew up what would work and it worked tonight,” Nappe said.
Warrensburg scored its lone touchdown of the third quarter on its opening possession of the second half as Moore took the direct snap 57-yards at the 9:19 mark.
Warrensburg’s starting unit added one more score in the fourth quarter as a 24-yard completion from Nappe to Pittsenbarger set up a four-yard scamper by Moore.
“I felt like we dominated the game in all three phases,” Cavanah, who now holds a 2-1 record against the rival Tigers.
Sophomore back-up quarterback Luke Othic added the finishing touch to the win, scampering 44 yards for the final score of the night and his first varsity touchdown.
Moore and Pittsenbarger both eclipsed 100 yards rushing in the win with the junior running back outgaining the senior by a yard, 105 to 104. Moore had the edge in the scoring column, finding the endzone four times — two on the ground and two through the air — to Pittsenbarger’s two scores.
The running back duo were also the only Warrensburg players to catch a pass in the win. Moore came out on top in the receiving column, tallying 77 yards on tree receptions to Pittsenbarger’s 61 yards on five catches.
Defensively, this is the first time either team has been shutout in the Silver Tiger showdown in the past decade. The Warrensburg starting unit has given up just one touchdown through three weeks — Marshall’s second-half touchdown in week two came against the Tigers second-unit.
Smith-Cotton (0-3) still leads the all-time series 16-13, with Warrensburg winning the last two after losing seven years in a row. Warrensburg’s 48-point margin of victory is also the largest in the rivalry in the last decade.
“Our guys have a lot of pride in our program and whether its Smith-Cotton or Marshall last week or whoever it is, our guys are winners,” Cavanah said. “We’ve got a special team.”
Warrensburg takes its perfect record on the road in week four, facing a floundering Clinton squad on Friday, Sept. 20.
The Cardinals are coming off a 59-0 loss to Summit Christian and have yet to score a point this season while giving up an average of 59.6 points per game.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.