Cape Central Football

Cape Central to Host District Title Game

Cape Central shuts down Oakville to advance to the Class 5, District 1 Championship Game.

Cape Central rode a strong defense and overcame some missed opportunities on offense to win its Class 5, District 1 Semifinal match-up at Oakville 25-12 on Friday night.

The win pushes Central’s record to 8-3, the most wins for the program since 2015.

It looked like it might turn out be a game of what-ifs when the Tigers failed to cash in after reaching inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in the first quarter.

“We were in the red zone with a chance to score. A penalty on us pushed us back and we failed to convert on a fourth and one,” said Head Coach Kent Gibbs after the game.

After a scoreless first quarter, Central took advantage of a bad snap on an Oakville punt attempt to take over at their 12-yard line. Super Sophomore running back Zai’Aire Thomas ran it in from three yards out to make it 6-0 after a failed extra point. Thomas now has 19 rushing touchdowns on the season.

Oakville answered back right away on a two-play drive that featured a long quarterback run and then a touchdown pass to the tailback from 25 yards away to tie the game 6-6 at halftime after the Tigers missed their kick.

The defensive struggle continued into the third quarter. The only score came when Central’s Clayton McClard took a pitch from quarterback Morgan Diamond on the option and ran 50 yds for a TD. The kick again failed, keeping the score 12-6 heading into the decisive fourth quarter.

Central missed a chance to take a two-score lead early in the fourth quarter. “They try a fake punt and we take over on the +25 yard line,” said Gibbs. “We do not convert and try a FG that missed.”

Oakville took advantage by moving the ball downfield and capping the drive with a six-yard scoring run to tie the game once again at 12-12 midway through the quarter after another missed PAT.

But Central took control from here thanks in part to some Oakville miscues.

After the Oakville punt returner fumbled, Central took over at the plus-35-yard line. It did not take long to cash in when KeShawn Boyd raced to the end zone from 30 yards out to put the visitors up again, 18-12, after an unsuccessful two-point attempt.

Then it was time for the defense to seal the deal, or so it seemed, when Diamond picked off an Oakville pass and set up the Tigers from Cape at the hosts’ 40-yard line. Cape appeared to take control of the game, but once again the opportunity slipped away after an apparent touchdown was called back by a motion penalty. The drive ended with no points.

Finally, with less than two minutes remaining, Cape Central got the game-clinching touchdown that had eluded it moments earlier. Diamond scored on a five-yard run, but not until after another score was called back by penalty. T.J. Mackins kicked the extra point to make the final score 25-12.

“We played really well and much too inconsistent on offense,” Gibbs said.  “We missed too many scoring opportunities in the red zone through poor execution & penalties. Overall, we had really good effort throughout the game.”

The two teams combined for just 415 total yards. Central had 239 and Oakville 176.

Boyd accounted for nearly a quarter of that total all by himself. The Freshman rushed for 101 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

The Oakville defense held the 1,000-yard rusher, Thomas, to just 42 yards on eight carries.

It was tough night in the passing department for Diamond who completed 2-11 for 20 yards. But he stepped up with a rushing touchdown and an interception.

Unquestionably, the Central defense was the star of the game. Oakville had just seven first downs, was 0-11 on third down conversions and turned it over twice.

Davarious Nunley led the charge with 13 tackles and Gavin Pittman had ten.  There were eight tackles for loss. “A really good defensive performance,” according to Gibbs.

With the win, third-seeded Central knew it would play in next week’s District Title game, but most thought they would have to travel to top-seeded Jackson, a team that has owned the Tigers for many, many years and beat them in the regular season 42-14. But as it turns out, Central will host the Championship game after number-four seed Poplar Bluff stunned the Indians in Jackson 21-20.

“We are excited to host the District Championship game at our place,” Gibbs stated.

The Tigers edged the Mules in Poplar Bluff 14-7 back on September 9th.

The clash for the Class 5, District 1 Championship will be on Veteran’s Day at 7 p.m. Central’s last District Title appearance was a loss to Farmington in 2019. Cape Central to Host District Title Game

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