Coach Richard Rehagen was not shocked by the 49-21 win by his Nixa Eagles over the Parkview Vikings in a semifinal game in the Class 5 District 5 playoffs Friday night.
“We played well in all aspects. I’m proud of them,” he said.
Bu what did surprise the Eagles’ coach was the fact that his team never had to punt in the contest and scored on all four of its first-half possessions.
“I did not know that until now,” he said.
Nixa (6-5) will now advance to the district title game against Republic next Friday in Republic. Nixa lost 45-27 to Republic in their last meeting, on Oct. 16.
“They have a good team and a good running game,” Rehegen said.
Nixa didn’t have any trouble handling one of the best running backs in the Ozarks on Friday night, holding the Vikings’ Anthony Riley to 31 yards in the first half. Riley was able to rack up more yards in the second half, when the game was out of hand, and he finished with more than 2,000 yards for the season.
“The defense flew around. We made Riley work, but he’s a good runner,” Rehagen said.
After Nixa jumped to a 28-7 halftime lead, the Eagles didn’t waste much time increasing it in the second half.
The Eagles recovered a Parkview fumble on the Parkview 25 and needed just five plays to score on a 6-yard run by Nicos Oropeza to go up 35-7 with 8:41 left in the third quarter.
Parkview (5-6) got its act together after that score and drove 80 yards to score on a 2-yard run by Riley to trail 34-14.
But the Vikings’ luck would run out even after recovering a Nixa fumble and stopping what looked like a potent Nixa drive on the Parkview 19. On the first play of the Parkview series, Riley was stood up in a pile of players and defensive lineman Austin Heatherly stripped the ball out of Riley’s hands and rumbled 32 yards for another Nixa score.
On the first play of the next Parkview series, Logan Tyler intercepted a Nick Cole pass and ran it in from 27 yards out for another score.
Parkview’s Cole scored the Vikings’ last TD with 1:59 left on an 8-yard run.
“Our coaches do a good job getting us prepared. It pays off. I play both sides of the ball surrounded by people who give you energy, and you feed off of it,” Tyler said after scoring an offensive and defensive touchdown and seven PATs.
Nixa put up an insurmountable margin in the first half, scoring on each of its four possessions.
It look as though Nixa’s first possession would be short-lived when it appeared they fumbled on the first play, but the play was ruled dead and eight plays later, Tyler Logan ran it in from 10 yards out.
Parkview was able to gather itself long enough to respond with a scoring drive of its own that finished with a 1-yard run by Riley to tie the game.
Oropeza scored the first of two first-half touchdowns with a 40-yard with 9:01 in the second half and again at the 4:36 mark from a yard out to put the Eagles up 21-7.
Parkview was unable to move the ball on its next possession. The Vikings punted from their own 2 but only got it out to their own 29. Nixa only needed the first play after taking over scoring on a 29-yard pass from Andrew Rivera to Chase Allen with 2:12 left before halftime.