NOWATA – Verdigris had no mercy for Nowata on Homecoming night. After all, the Cardinals have had their own share of problems recently.
Sophomore quarterback Hayden Jones completed 12-of-16 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns as Verdigris took out its frustrations with a 55-8 blowout over Nowata at Ironmen Memorial Field. The defeat represented the home team’s 14th straight while the Cardinals won for the first time this season.
Hayden Hutchison ran for 107 yards and a score with junior wide receiver Toby Willis collecting four touchdowns, hauling in TD tosses of 51, 9 and 12 yards. Verdigris scored on all but two possessions and amassed 469 yards offense with 21 first downs.
The Cardinals’ defense was equally impressive, holding Nowata to one first down and 11 yards of total offense until the Ironmen gained three first downs and 82 yards on a late scoring drive against reserves. Nowata finished with negative one yard passing.
Verdigris (1-2) moved 76 yards to 10 plays to lead 7-0 midway through the first period. From the eight, Jones found sophomore Kaleson Marshall in the end zone corner for the touchdown. Tragen Appelman kicked the first of his seven conversions.
In the second quarter, the Cardinals needed just four snaps to lead 14-0. A short Nowata punt carried to its 29 and Hutchison rammed over on first and goal from the one. The next time Verdigris snapped the ball, Jones chunked 51 yards to Willis for a 21-0 gap. The massacre continued when Jones hit Willis from nine yards out with five minutes remaining in the half.
The Cardinals were ahead 28-0 at intermission and a big reason was the defense’s play. Nowata had just one first down and 23 yards, The Ironmen’s deepest penetration came at the Verdigris 30 following a recovered VHS onside kick. Nowata lost 14 yards on consecutive plays and never got closer until the final scoring drive.
Verdigris refused to let up on the Ironmen, displayed when Carson Calvert returned the second half kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown. The Cards then recovered an onside kick at the Nowata 43 and scored in six plays. Jones spied Willis in end zone again, this time for 12 yards at 8:51 of the third period.
When Verdigris got the ball back, the bulge reached 49-0 midway in the frame. Willis was again the hero, taking Jones’ handoff, scrambling and breaking tackles before racing down the sideline en route to a 37-yard TD.
With a running clock in the final period, the Cardinals added one more score. Sophomore Alec James ran the ball seven consecutive times on a 64-yard drive, reaching the end zone on James’ 13-yard run around right end with 10:55 left.