It was just about everything the Nixa football team could have hoped for.
A mistake-filled first quarter gave the Eagles’ coaching staff plenty of practice fodder, and a dominant second period provided the fireworks as Nixa broke in its new turf and a slew of new starters with a 47-7 win over Sedalia Smith-Cotton on Friday night.
New starting quarterback Austin Schweiss finished with 307 total yards in just more than two quarters of work as Nixa (1-0) led 33-0 at halftime after a five-touchdown second quarter.
“We were all a little nervous to start, with the new field and the first game and everything,” Schweiss said. “But after that first touchdown we all settled in.”
That first score came on a 45-yard Schweiss-to-Mason Rohr touchdown pass on a third-and-19 that opened the floodgates on 20 Nixa points in a two-minute stretch.
Schweiss had a hand in four of Nixa’s first six touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior tossed a 49-yard touchdown pass to Carney Wilmes in the second period, and later added touchdown runs of 18 and 60 yards.
Schweiss finished 7 of 10 passing for 189 yards and carried six times for 118 yards.
“It was definitely good,” Nixa coach Rich Rehagen said. “He has a little experience, but it was good to get him off to a good start.”
Nixa, playing without injured linemen J.D. Payne and Xyah Ra, piled up 327 yards of offense in the first half and finished with 520 total yards. Ra is expected to miss three weeks. Payne, a starter since his freshman year, is out indefinitely after surgery on his right wrist.
Sophomore Alec Murphy rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns, and backup fullback Cody Uber had 77 yards on four carries. Ruben Guzman had Nixa’s other touchdown.
“The run game opens up our passing game,” Schweiss said of Nixa’s 331 rushing yards. “Our line did great. This gives us a lot of confidence, but we can’t look too far ahead.”
Looking ahead isn’t likely to be a problem after Nixa committed turnovers on its first three possessions and finished with eight penalties. The Eagles had a 50-yard punt return touchdown called back on a penalty, a 45-yard touchdown run called back on a penalty and lost a fumble inside the Smith-Cotton 10-yard line.
“But I thought our guys kept battling,” Rehagen said. “Definitely there are some things we need to work on. We had too many penalties and we need to clean up the turnovers.”
Smith-Cotton was held to 82 yards of offense in the first half and saw its upset hopes fade with four turnovers in the second quarter.
“Mistakes, turnovers, missed assignments on defense,” said Smith-Cotton coach Mark Johnson in summing up his team’s play. “I felt good offensively and defensively after the first quarter. But we have such a young team. I was not happy with how the second quarter went.”
Henry Contreras scored Smith Cotton’s only touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.