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FOOTBALL: Webb City finishes strong, ends skid against Joplin

Jason Peake

WEBB CITY, Mo. — The highly-anticipated meeting between state-ranked rivals Joplin and Webb City once again lived up to its usual billing.

But after an even first half, Class 5 No. 2 Webb City made more winning plays after intermission on the way to a convincing 38-21 victory over Class 6 No. 9 Joplin on Friday night inside a packed Cardinal Stadium.

The game was deadlocked at 14 at halftime before the Cardinals outscored the Eagles 24-7 in the second half. 

“I’m extremely proud of our kids,” Webb City coach Ryan McFarland said. “We faced some adversity. At halftime, we felt like we should have had the lead, but the game was tied. The kids just kept fighting. We talked about getting a stop to start the third quarter and we talked about finishing drives offensively. We were able to do that.” 

Of course, Joplin had won the previous four meetings with Webb City.

The Cardinals ended the skid.

“This is big,” Webb City sophomore Gabe Johnson said. “We came out strong and won the game. We kept pushing it in the second half. They’d beat us four years in a row, so this feels good. I’ve been waiting for my turn in this game.”

“Honestly, our kids and coaches were aware of it, but we never talked about it as a team,” McFarland said of attempting to halt the streak. “You don’t want to put too much pressure on the kids. We just wanted to be a week better this week and I think we were.” 

Joplin coach Curtis Jasper noted the Cardinals deserved the victory.

“It was a hard-fought, physical game, so hats off to Webb City,” Jasper said. “Webb City played really well, especially up front. We made some mistakes and they had some big defensive stops. In the end, you have to give Webb City a lot of credit. They played very well tonight.” 

Joplin QB Hobbs Gooch eludes the Webb City defense during Friday’s game. Photo by Israel Perez.


Webb City QB Braden McKee hands off to Andrew Elwell on Friday. Photo by Israel Perez.

After Joplin’s defense forced a turnover on downs on the first series of the night, the Eagles needed just two plays to go 66 yards, as senior QB Hobbs Gooch completed a short pass to senior tight end Whit Hafer, who rumbled past the defense to the end zone for a 58-yard score.

Webb City responded immediately, as the speedy Johnson returned the ensuing kick 97 yards for a game-tying score.

The Cardinals took a 14-7 lead at the end of the opening frame when senior QB Braden McKee connected with Johnson for a 14-yard touchdown strike. The hosts were able to extend the go-ahead drive after recovering a punt.

Webb City threatened to extend its lead to two scores late in the first half, as the hosts had the ball on the 10-yard line. But a pass into the end zone was picked off by Joplin’s Chavis Coleman. 

The Eagles made the most of the takeaway, as the visitors tied the game at 14 with an eight-play, 87-yard drive that was finished off by Jett Beal’s 29-yard reception with 45 seconds remaining in the first half. Joplin also kept the tying drive going by pulling off a fake punt.

“Coach (Alan) Linden does a great job of preparing our special teams,” Jasper noted. “We thought the fake punt was there and we took advantage of it.” 

Alex Dunne’s 37-yard field goal gave Webb City a 17-14 lead and was the lone score of the third period.

Webb City’s Brett Korth picked off a Gooch pass on the next series, and the Cardinals extended their lead to 10 on junior Andrew Elwell’s 5-yard scamper. 

The Eagles pulled within three with 8:13 left after Aidan Sampson hauled in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Gooch.

Joplin senior Whit Hafer scampers past the Webb City defense during Friday’s game.

But the Cardinals finished strong, scoring a pair of unanswered touchdowns in the final frame.

Johnson sprinted to a 28-yard touchdown with 6:47 left before Webb City’s defense forced a quick three and out on the next series.

“The interception was a big play for them,” Jasper noted. “And the run by Johnson was a huge play.”

The Cardinals put the final touches on the win with 3:09 remaining when Joseph DeGraffenreid caught a 22-yard touchdown pass.

Joplin nearly scored before the end of regulation, but the Webb City defense stopped the Eagles near the goal line before running out the final seconds.

McFarland noted he was proud his team was able to limit the Eagles to one score after the break.

“Our defense has played well all year,” McFarland said. “We were able to get stops. They play hard and they play as a group.”



Webb City recorded 367 yards, with 283 on the ground and 84 through the air.

Elwell ran 20 times for 124 yards, while Johnson had 91 rushing yards on 11 carries. 

Defensively, Brody Eggleston had 13 tackles and Conner Gayman added eight. 

Joplin finished with 354 yards, 244 passing and 110 rushing.

Webb City’s Noah Durman carries the football against Joplin on Friday night.

Gooch completed 15 of 22 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. 

Hafer hauled in five passes for 111 yards, while Sampson had 50 receiving yards on five catches and Davin Thomas had four receptions for 46 yards.

Kaden Gilmore ran nine times for 32 yards to lead Joplin’s rushing attack. 

Garren Berry had eight tackles for the Eagles, while Cordell Washington had seven. 



Webb City took the field without a pair of key performers, as starting running backs Breckin Galardo and Omari Jackson both suffered injuries in last week’s game at Republic. 

The Eagles were not at full-strength, either, as they are currently missing standout running back Quin Renfro, a South Dakota State recruit.

Also of note, Joplin’s Gooch and standout offensive lineman Dontrell Holt (Iowa State recruit) were back in the lineup for the Eagles this week.

The Eagles lost a couple of players to injuries on Friday night.



Joplin (3-1) hosts Class 6 No. 4 Nixa (4-0) next Friday.

Jasper said there were positives his team can take away from Friday’s loss.

“It’s just Week 4, so we still have a chance to get better,” Jasper said. “We have another tough opponent next week. We need to get better between now and then.”

Webb City (3-1) hosts Ozark (1-3) in Week 5.

The Cardinals have now won three straight after a Week 1 setback at Nixa.

“It’s been rewarding to watch the kids have success on the field,” McFarland said. “They’ve been rewarded for their efforts.”

Webb City sophomore Gabe Johnson sprints to a kick return touchdown against Joplin on Friday night at Cardinal Stadium.


Joplin’s Toryn Jones looks for running room against Webb City on Friday night. Webb City defeated Joplin 38-21 in COC play. Photos by Israel Perez.


Joplin’s Aidan Sampson looks to elude Webb City’s Brayden Ackerman.


Joplin             7    7    0     7 — 21

Webb City   14   0    3   21 — 38


JOP: Whit Hafer 58 pass from Hobbs Gooch (Toby Ipsen kick)

WC: Gabe Johnson 97 kick return (Alex Dunne kick)

WC: Johnson 14 pass from Braden McKee (Dunne kick)

JOP: Jett Beal 29 pass from Gooch (Ipsen kick)

WC: Alex Dunne 37 field goal

WC: Andrew Elwell 5 run (Dunne kick)

JOP: Aidan Sampson 7 pass from Gooch (Ipsen kick)

WC: Johnson 28 run (Dunne kick)

WC: Joseph DeGraffenreid 22 pass from McKee (Dunne kick)


FULL STATS: Webb City HS (


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