A new head coach, a rebuilt offensive line and defensive secondary and hefty expectations following last year’s 21-1 conference and district title-winning team didn’t slow down the West Plains Zizzers, who opened up the 2019 season with a dominant road win over the Hillcrest Hornets in Springfield.
West Plains received the game’s opening kick and quickly got on the scoreboard. Less than a minute into the game senior quarterback Connor Rackley connected with senior Alan Marcak for the first touchdown of the season, a 43-yard scoring play. The extra point was good and West Plains led 7-0 with 11:15 on the first quarter clock.
The West Plains defense flexed its muscle forcing a turnover on downs on only four plays.
The Zizzers took over on the Hillcrest 34 yard line. A first down pass from Rackley to senior tight end Jacob Ackerson and a penalty against Hillcrest set the Zizzers with a first and goal from the five yard line.
One play later All-State running back Brayden Lidgard got into the end zone for the first time of the young season with 8:06 remaining in the opening quarter. The point after attempt was no good and the Zizzers led 13-0.
One minute later, Hillcrest was forced to punt the ball away. The kick was blocked by West Plains senior defensive lineman Eric Washington and the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone resulting in a safety and two points for West Plains.
The Zizzers took possession of the ball after the safety but was forced to punt the ball back to Hillcrest for the first time in the game.
The Hornets started the possession from their own nine-yard line. The Zizzer defense forced another three and out and punt.
West Plains took over from their own 44-yard line. Lidgard responded with his second touchdown of the night, a 56-yard touchdown run. The score extended the Zizzers lead to 22-0.
Another Hillcrest possession ended in a three and out and a punt. The punt also ended the first quarter of the ball game.
The second quarter started out with another West Plains score. Lidgard got loose and went 76-yards for his third rushing touchdown of the game. The extra point was good and the West Plains lead was 29-0.
Midway through the second quarter, the Zizzers found end zone again. Rackley connected with Ackerson on a red zone pass and catch to extend the lead to 35-0. Rackley’s second touchdown pass was a seven-yard strike.
West Plains had another chance to score late in the second quarter but Rackley’s pass as tipped and intercepted. Hillcrest, however, could not do anything with the turnover and the first half ended with a West Plains 35-0 lead.
The Hornets only tallied one first down in the entire first half.
The second half began with a running clock, due to the 35-point lead. Just minutes into the third quarter, Marcak had a punt return touchdown called back for a penalty. West Plains was able to get into the end zone just a few plays later as junior Titus Seley hammered his way across the goal line for a three-yard touchdown. The extra point was good and the lead was 42-0.
The Zizzer second unity and junior varsity players took over midway through the third and played out the remainder of the game.
Hillcrest was able to score a pair of second half touchdowns but West Plains picked up a 42-14 win to open the season 1-0.
The Zizzers will host its home opener at 7 p.m. Friday against the Rolla Bulldogs at Zizzer Stadium in West Plains.
Week One Scoreboard
West Plains 42, Hillcrest 14
Camdenton 36, Waynesville 6
Lebanon 28, Kickapoo 7
Rolla 32, Glendale 24
Parkview 28, Springfield Central 6
Ava 30, Buffalo 30
Thayer 30, Hayti 12
Fair Grove 29, Mountain Grove 7
Strafford 20, Willow Springs 0
Salem 32, St. James 6
* Score unavailable for all SCA teams