By JASON STRICKLAND (WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – The Warrensburg Tigers football team (0-5) fell just short in a 21-18 loss to the Smith-Cotton Tigers (1-4) despite season-highs in passing and rushing for senior quarterback Brett Marr.
Marr was 15-of-26 passing for 127 yards and a touchdown, while running the ball eight times for 60 yards and a touchdown.
“There isn’t a finer young man in America as far as I’m concerned,” said head coach Scott Grinde. “He’s a disciplined kid and he understands things, and he leads by example, which is the greatest leadership that there can be.”
Warrensburg was down 21-10 with 4:57 remaining in the game after an 8-yard touchdown run by Smith-Cotton’s junior running back Trevor Rialti.
Warrensburg was able to drive down the field to score a touchdown from 12-yards out with a pass from Marr to senior wide receiver John Kuhn with 26.6 seconds remaining. Marr’s pass to senior tight end Matt Robinson converted the two-point conversion to make it 21-18.
A Warrensburg onside kick was recovered by sophomore running back Zach Nowlin at the Tigers’ own 47-yard line with 25.7 seconds remaining.
Marr completed a 15-yard pass to senior wide receiver Ozan Tarim and a 5-yard pass to senior wide-out Anthony Briscoe to start the drive, but two deep incompletions in a row ended the game.
“They worked their tails off,” Grinde said. “There were several times in the game we could have kind of backed off and we said, ‘You know what, we’re not gonna continue to play hard and try to battle,’ and we did it. We battled right to the very last play.”
The game started off slow with Warrensburg going three-and-out on their first three drives. The third three-and-out followed a Smith-Cotton fumble with 3:55 left in the first.
After that, Smith-Cotton drove down the field and scored a touchdown off a 14-yard run by junior running back Chance McMullin. The extra point by senior Timmy Lor made it 7-0 with 7:43 left in the second quarter.
With 4:45 remaining in the second, Warrensburg had a 12-yard touchdown run by Briscoe called back for holding. That drive led to a 30-yard field goal by Nowlin with 4:43 left in the first half.
Nowlin was the kicker since senior Rem Hoyer was playing for the Warrensburg soccer team against the Marshfield Blue Jays in Bolivar.
Warrensburg recovered its second fumble with 1:26 left in the first half, but failed to score as Nowlin missed a 27-yard field goal attempt with 7.7 second remaining in the half.
The start of the second half was all Warrensburg. They scored a touchdown on the first drive of the half off a 26-yard run by Marr with 9:30 left in the third. The 10-7 lead marked the first lead for Warrensburg this season.
Smith-Cotton controlled much of the second half after that. A 3-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Dakota Brown and an 8-yard touchdown run by Rialti gave Smith-Cotton the 21-10 lead.
Warrensburg failed on a fake punt attempt with 11:17 remaining in the game in between those Smith-Cotton scores.
The leading rusher for the game was McMullin with 88 yards and a touchdown off 19 carries. The next leading rushers were Marr and Brown with 60 yards and a touchdown each. Brown had 15 carries.
Briscoe was the leading receiver for the game with 40 yards off seven receptions. Briscoe also ran it four times for 32 yards. Nowlin ended up with four carries for 20 yards and two receptions for 35 yards. Senior Warrensburg running back Logan Mean had 17 yards off six carries.
Next up for Warrensburg is a homecoming game against the Center Yellowjackets (3-2) next Friday.