The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Red zone deficiencies sink Waynesville Tigers in 21-14 loss to West Plains Zizzers

  • There were three trips to the red zone for the Tigers on Friday that didn't net any points in a game lost by a single touchdown
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  • An ugly performance in Waynesville netted the Tigers a loss for their first game of the football season – 21-14 to the West Plains Zizzers.
    On three occasions Waynesville drove into the red zone and were unable to put any points on the board, including a drive that started on the Zizzers’ 10-yard line.
    Waynesville Offensive Coordinator Derick Heflin said the inability to finish off drives sunk his team’s ship tonight.
    “When we break down the game film and look at the final stats, we’re going to have a massive amount of yards and not enough points to show for it,” Heflin said.
    One of the biggest surprises was the offensive line, a group full of upperclassmen, was letting defenders run amuck in the backfield.
    That caused plenty of head-scratching on the coaching staff, but Heflin insists it was not attributed to their effort.
    “The effort is not in question,” Heflin said. “I’ve never questioned it with these kids since they started coming and lifting with us in November after the Camdenton game.”
    The first empty-handed drive into the end zone came on Waynesville’s first offensive possession.
    A two-and-a-half minute drive with 43 yards of offense stalled on West Plains’ 19-yard line. Waynesville elected to go for it on fourth down, and failed, turning the ball over on downs.
    West Plains took advantage of the opportunity, reeling off a 12-play, 81-yard touchdown drive ending on quarterback Sam Hall’s 1-yard quarterback sneak.
    The teams then traded a couple of punts, Waynesville ending up with decent field position at West Plains’ 35-yard line.
    It appeared to be the start of something good when quarterback Varon Martinez connected with senior receiver Nigel Farmer on a beautiful 30-yard pass. Farmer made a spectacular grab, extending his body to make the catch as he was falling.
    Martinez was picked off on the next play though, and West Plains started driving from the Tigers’ 40-yard line.
    West plains drove all the way to the Tigers’ 7-yard line, but Waynesville’s defense stiffened up and forced a fourth down.
    That’s when Farmer mustered up some more heroics (wouldn’t be his last either).
    The Zizzers’ lined up to attempt what looked like an easy field goal, but Farmer came bursting off the outside of the defense to block the kick. The ball rolled through the end zone and gave Waynesville the ball at the 20.
    That led to one of the productive drives for the Tigers.
    Martinez immediately broke out for an 80-yard touchdown, but it was called back by a block-in-the-back penalty.
    Page 2 of 4 - Waynesville did finish off the drive, eventually, and Martinez got his touchdown – a 7-yard run on an option – tying the game up at seven with 5:36 left in the half.
    The Zizzers’ next couples of drives were disastrous, but, still, Waynesville couldn’t capitalize.
    Following the Martinez touchdown, they went three plays for eight yards and botched a hand-off.
    The Tigers picked it up and from West Plains’ 37-yard line, were only able to produce three yards of offense before punting.
    West Plains then gave Waynesville a second chance when the quarterback fumbled the snap at their 10-yard line with 1:57 left in the half.
    Unbelievably, they turned it over on downs. Running back Jalen Thomas even put them at the five on the first play, but a couple of tackles behind the line and an incomplete pass left them with nothing to show for the defenses’ efforts.
    Heflin took all of the blame after the game, saying his calls weren’t aggressive enough.
    “We should have scored there,” he said. “We were trying to run the clock and make sure that we scored with little time left.”
    After halftime, West Plains breezed down the field mostly thanks to their running back Ryan Martin.
    Martin had 63 yards in the first half, but he wasn’t finished. After being stopped for two yards on his first carry, he busted out for nine, then 12 and another 12 before they arrived in the Tigers’ red zone.
    Waynesville’s defense appeared to dig in and begin to hold them, but a devastating penalty cost them big.
    On fourth and five from the Tigers’ 12 West Plains’ Head Coach Steve Ary decided to go for it. The call was a pass.
    Hall drops back and fires into the home sideline’s corner and it fell incomplete, but a flag is thrown and the referee calls pass interference on the Tigers.
    Martin promptly plodded into the end zone on the next play for a touchdown to put the Zizzers on top 13-7 with 6:35 remaining (the extra point was no good).
    Ary applauded his diminutive running back (he’s about 5-foot-nine and 158 pounds by Ary’s estimations).
    “He’s the little guy, the little train that could, whatever you want to call him,” Ary said. “We believe in him, and we let him know that. He’s just tough.”
    Following a couple punts, the Tigers were driving from their own 4-yard line and the worst thing that could’ve happened did – a fumble. And West Plains scooped it up at the three.
    Page 3 of 4 - Martin wasted no time running it in.
    Martin, who ended up with an unofficial 143 yards, said he was just running behind some bulldozers.
    “Our pulling guards are very tough,” Martin said. “And Wade Chezem, our fullback, I love following him. He had to kick out a couple of big dudes tonight.”
    Waynesville decided to make things interesting in the fourth quarter.
    It started out looking about the same: the Tigers starting from their own 40, looking pedestrian.
    Then, who else, Farmer snagged a pass and started weaving through traffic for a first down.
    After Farmer went down, a couple of flags were thrown and the call was unsportsmanlike conduct.
    When all was said and done, it ended up being about a 45-yard play.
    Waynesville pushed it to the Zizzers’ 20, but then things started to slow down again and they wound up facing another fourth-down play, fourth and 13 to be exact.
    Guess who showed up big.
    Nigel Farmer.
    Martinez was facing all kinds of pressure and the sideline began screaming “Look at Nigel!” Eventually Martinez found Farmer standing all by himself and lobbed up a pass, but it was close to the back of the end zone and Farmer had to tip-toe the line.
    It was good for a touchdown though and Waynesville cut the score to 21-14 with 8:23 remaining in the game.
    West Plains tried to make it easy on the Tigers by going three-and-out on the ensuing drive, but nothing was smooth sailing for Waynesville on Friday night.
    The drive started from Waynesville’s 28.
    Three plays later it was fourth-and-one. Thomas came up with a huge 3-yard run.
    Three plays later it was fourth-and-six. Martinez picked up the offense with a first-down run.
    Eventually it all came down to another fourth-down play – this one with five yards left to pick up and 1:52 left in the game.
    Their fourth-down magic ended on that play, and Waynesville turned it over on downs when a ball deflected off of a receiver’s hands and fell to the ground.
    Ary breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn’t sure that drive was going to end without some points.
    “I just kept thinking somebody has got to make a play,” Ary said. “But they dropped two balls and made them for us.
    “We got lucky.”
    The Zizzers’ had a 40-yard run on the next play and then Hall kneeled out the rest of the game.
    Martin said the only difference between the Zizzers and the Tigers was West Plains’ defense was able to cover up the offense’s miscues.
    Page 4 of 4 - “The defense was the rock of the team,” Martin said. “Our offense had a few errors that really messed us up, but our defense kept us going. They revived our team after errors.
    “They kept us from losing the game.”
    Heflin said no aspect of the Tigers’ game should shoulder the loss. Each area lacked at some point.
    “We just couldn’t execute,” Heflin said. “It was the first time the bullets were flying and going that long and our execution wasn’t where it needed to be.”
    Waynesville’s opportunity to redeem itself will be next Friday, Aug. 29 when the Tigers travel to Lebanon to take on the Yellowjackets at 7:00 p.m.
    . They kept us from losing the game.”
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