The student section counted down the final seconds of the last football game that will ever be played between Carthage and Webb City at K.E. Baker Stadium on Friday night.

When the clock struck zero, hundreds spilled onto the field and surrounded the victorious Tigers, while the Cardinals gathered quietly in the east end zone.

Final score: Carthage 34, Webb City 21.

The student section counted down the final seconds of the last football game that will ever be played between Carthage and Webb City at K.E. Baker Stadium on Friday night.

When the clock struck zero, hundreds spilled onto the field and surrounded the victorious Tigers, while the Cardinals gathered quietly in the east end zone.

Final score: Carthage 34, Webb City 21.

The Tigers will still play at least three more games this season at K.E. Baker before moving down the street to a new facility next year, but Friday’s home opener certainly set a high bar.

It was Carthage’s first victory against Webb City since 2007, when the Tigers won 23-22, and it was just the Tigers’ second win against the Cardinals since 1987, a span of 32 games.

After a disappointing loss at Ozark last week in the season opener, Friday’s win breathed new life into Carthage’s season.

Webb City, meanwhile, was forced to watch another team’s fans storm the field for the second-straight week after losing 23-7 at Carl Junction last week in the Bulldogs’ first win against the Cardinals since 1977.

Webb City, which has had a winning record every year since going 5-5 in 1998 and hasn’t had a losing record since a 4-6 year in 1982, now stands at 0-2 after losing games to Carthage and Carl Junction in the same season. The Cardinals haven’t lost to both rivals in the same season in over 40 years.

Carthage head coach Jon Guidie, who now owns two career wins against Webb City, said the reaction of Carthage fans was a nod to Webb City’s prowess.

“That tells you what a top notch program they have over there, very rich in tradition and pride,” he said. “When communities do something like that it’s a compliment to the dynasty that they built over there. To generate this much excitement with these people and community and our team, I’m so happy for our players and coaches. We really rallied after a disappointing first week when we didn’t play as well as we should have or could have.”

Carthage beat Webb City virtually the same way the Cardinals have tormented so many teams for decades. The Tigers took advantage of field position and turnovers in building a 20-7 halftime lead.

The Cardinals opened the game with a drive that appeared vintage Webb City until junior Clay Newman intercepted a pass at the Carthage 11. Carthage gave the ball right back and took a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard plunge by Cameron Baker.

To that point the Cardinals had run 16 offensive plays to Carthage’s one.

Carthage made it a 7-6 game after a 70-yard drive that ended with a 21-yard touchdown run by senior Trey Collins. Quarterback Keith Guest kept the drive alive by moving the chains on a fourth-and-short deep in Webb City territory. The extra point was blocked.

Carthage halted another Webb City drive when senior Shane Becker recovered a fumbled handoff at the Tigers’ 17. Webb City coughed it up again on its third possession and sophomore Andrew Raney recovered at the 12 to set up another touchdown run by Collins, making it a 13-7 game with 4:39 left in the first half.

Yet another Webb City turnover gave Carthage possession at midfield with 3:26 left in the quarter and the Tigers went ahead 20-7 when Becker scored on a 2-yard run in the final minute.

The key play of that possession was a first down pass initially intercepted by Webb City at the 1-yard line before Carthage junior Arkell Smith took the ball away in midair for a first down. On the very next play Becker scored.

Two penalties on the ensuing kickoff gave the Cardinals a chance at midfield with 30 seconds left in the half and a long screen play gave the Cardinals the ball at the 1 with seven seconds left. Baker got the ball and was stuffed at the goal line before time expired.
The Cardinals were forced to punt after three plays on their first possession of the third quarter, giving the Tigers the ball at the Webb City 36.

Guest later scored from the 2 and junior Corben Pugh scored on the two-point play to give Carthage a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter.

A Baker touchdown early in the fourth made it a 28-14 game, but Carthage recovered an onside kick at its own 49 and scored eight plays later on another Guest run to lead 34-14.
Baker scored on a 3-yard run with 2:16 left in the game.

“I thought our defense played outstanding tonight,” Guidie said. “Our offense started to resemble just a little bit our offense from last year in the way we controlled the clock, controlled the ball, chewed up time and finished drives this time. We didn’t do that last week.”

Guidie said he didn’t know if he’d seen a more impressive catch than Smith’s takeaway near the end zone, and also noted Logan Kabance’s goal-line stop before the half.

“There were several points in the game we as coaches would say, ‘Man, if we just pick up this first down right here,’ and we’d pick it up. There were several points throughout the game we were able to do that.”

Guest, who rushed for 62 yards and two touchdowns, said Guidie had preached nothing but pride all week.

“We took so much pride in winning this game and the pride we put out on the field came from the fans and they loved it as much as we did,” he said.

He said the win should provide a big momentum boost, too.

“Oh yeah, any time you can beat a powerhouse school like Webb City it gets some momentum going into the next game.

“Especially with the rivalry we’ve had,” he said. “This is the best thing that could happen for our program.”

Webb City still out-gained Carthage in total offense, 313 yards to 294. The Cardinals rushed for 241 yards to Carthage’s 220, while the Tigers gained five more first downs.
Collins led the team with 86 rushing yards, while Baker led Webb City with 124 yards and three scores.

Smith caught four passes for 67 yards for the Tigers.

Carthage next hosts Branson while Webb City hosts Republic.