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Eagles roll in Backyard Brawl to wrap up first undefeated regular season in 20 years


The Backyard Brawl on Friday featured the same storyline as a year ago, along with the same final score as a year ago.

Safety Spencer Ward donned jersey number 10 for the first time in honor of his injured teammate and best friend, Brody Mabe, as Nixa ran its winning streak in the Backyard Brawl to four games with a 51-7 rout of Ozark.

Last season’s 51-7 Eagles win at Ozark in the Backyard Brawl saw running back Ramone Green sport jersey number 1 as a salute to his injured teammate and best buddy, Austin McCracken.

“I got the idea from Ramone, same situation,” Ward said. “Right after the game last week, I decided I wanted to make a gesture toward Broden and his family. That's my dawg. I'm still sad I can't play with him. But I'm glad to get a 'W' with his jersey.”

Ward related Mabe was proud to have his jersey back on the gridiron. The senior safety suffered a torn ACL two weeks ago against Willard.

“When I told him, he was like, 'Man, I'm gong to cry,’” Ward said.

Ward will have to wait to watch film from Friday’s game to see how he looks wearing two digits, rather than his customary number 9.

“We don't have any mirrors in (the locker room), so thankfully it didn't throw me off,” Ward said. “I asked my teammates how I looked and they said, 'You look good' — look good and play good I guess.”

Nixa (9-0) completed its first undefeated regular season since 2003. It’s been a long time coming for Ward and his senior teammates.

“My grade, ever since seventh grade, we always lost one regular-season game,” Ward said, referring to the varsity’s 8-1 regular-season record last season, the jayvee’s 8-1 record in 2021, the freshman team’s 8-1 record in 2020, the eighth-grade team’s 5-1 record in 2019 and the seventh-grade team’s 5-1 record in 2018. 

“We finally did it, we finally got an undefeated regular season,” he added.

The Eagles held a 6-0 lead after one quarter, before enjoying a 31-point second quarter.

Wide receiver Wyatt Vincent reached paydirt twice on a 15-yard scoring strike from quarterback Nate Uber and and a 62-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Blevins.

“Their secondary was solid,” Vincent said. “But our quarterbacks had really good ball placement.”

Running backs Dylan Rebura and Malachi Rider teamed for five touchdowns, including a 49-yard Rider run. 

Kicker Jordan Cribbs booted a 25-yard field goal and made 6-of-7 extra-point attempts.

Even with the turbo clock in effect for all of the second half, Nixa’s intensity didn’t drop off. Cornerback Parker Mann seemingly was in Ozark's offensive backfield all night.

“We did a good job of keeping our foot on the neck, keeping our foot on the pedal and not laying off of them,” wide receiver Rylan Michel said. “That’s what got the guys behind us the chance to play tonight.”

“Our emphasis has been punching them in the mouth right off the bat and keeping our foot on the throat,” Ward said.

Ozark put points on the board in the fourth quarter, when running back Kyle Fitzpatrick broke loose for a 15-yard touchdown run.

The Tigers were without injured running back Jack Bowers for a second straight week.

Nixa is the No. 1 seed in Class 6 District 5 and will have a first-round bye. Kickapoo (8-1) is the No. 2 seed and Joplin (6-3) the No. 3 seed. They, too, will receive a bye.

Ozark (1-8) is the No. 5 seed and will play at No. 4 seed Waynesville (2-7) in a first-round matchup next week.

Nixa 51, Ozark 7

Ozark  0  0  0   7  -  7

Nixa  6 31 14 0 - 51


N - Dylan Rebura 1 run (kick no good)

N - Wyatt Vincent 15 pass from Nate Uber (Jordan Cribbs kick)

N - Rebura 1 run (Cribbs kick)

N - Malachi Rider 18 run (Cribbs kick)

N - Vincent 62 pass from Drew Blevins (Cribbs kick)

N - Cribbs 25 field goal

N - Rider 49 run (Cribbs kick)

N - Rebura 1 run (Cribbs kick)

O - Kyle Fitzpatrick 15 run (Sam Clark kick)