PARIS, Mo. — The Russellville Indians were feeling confident going into halftime Friday night against the Paris Coyotes.
They were a failed 2-point conversion away from being tied, as the score read 16-14 in favor of the Coyotes.
Based on how well the Russellville offense was playing, it was certainly possible the Indians could score a few more touchdowns and get a couple key stops.
But Paris responded with 42 points in the second half to run away with a 58-22 victory.
The first half was better than Russellville coach Roger VanDeZande could have anticipated. Junior running back Chris Seaver ran for two touchdowns and had already eclipsed 100 yards rushing by the halftime break. He would finish with 177 yards, the most by a Russellville runner this season.
Quarterback Jesse Daniel was also having a solid day throwing the ball, the best he had looked all season. He also nabbed an interception on Paris' last possession going into halftime.
"That was a great first half," VanDeZande said. "It was a great game for us. We ran our offense, went down and scored pretty much like clockwork."
On the first drive, Russellville took care of business and drove the ball inside the 30-yard line. Seaver then took the ball from 25 yards out for a score to give the Indians the lead off the bat.
After that, there was no looking back.
"We played good. Everyone was playing great on offense," Seaver said. "Just got to follow your blockers and just follow the open hole."
Seaver followed those blockers in the red zone during an 8-yard touchdown run that gave Russellville a 14-8 lead, despite a failed 2-point conversion.
Seaver also made several key tackles on defense.
The message around the team was clear: This was a very winnable game.
On the opening kickoff to start the second half, Russellville caught a lucky break by recovering the onside kick at midfield. It was perfect starting field position for any team to begin the second half but even more so for them.
Daniel handed off to Seaver, who burst for a 25-yard run. It looked like this was going to be Russellville's half.
Until the ball came loose.
Paris pounced on the ball and recovered it to take over possession. A couple plays later, Paris quarterback Chris Ebbesmeyer punched it in from the 1-yard line and the score was 24-14 after the 2-point conversion was good.
From then on, it was an avalanche of scoring that didn't stop until the clock on the scoreboard read all zeroes.
When the dust cleared, it was Paris 58, Russellville 22.
Daniel enjoyed his best day throwing the ball all season, despite the scoreline, throwing for 94 yards and most importantly, his first passing touchdown of the season and his career — a 25-yard catch-and-run to receiver Blake Burling toward the end of the fourth quarter.
"It felt great," Daniel said. "My offensive line did awesome, and my wide receivers ran the right routes. It felt awesome."
Burling ended the night with two catches for 30 yards including the touchdown.
Other than that, there was not much else to celebrate for Russellville, as four fumbles — including one on a kickoff — put a very winnable game out of reach. VanDeZande chalked that up to the getting more time in the weight room.
"If you're not sound in your technique, and you're not that much stronger, it's going to happen to you," VanDeZande said. "We have to control the things we control and that is how we train in our technique and controlling the ball. We also need to hold onto the ball better when we're tired."
Paris quarterback Chris Ebbesmeyer had four total touchdowns for the Coyotes — three rushing and one passing to running back Brock Miller. He passed for 77 yards and ran for another 32.
Miller had a monster game with 209 rushing yards and a touchdown to go along with 70 yards receiving and the aforementioned touchdown. He also came up with a big fourth down conversion for the Coyotes in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-19.
Fullback Owen Totten scored a touchdown and rushed for 42 yards. Running backs Adam White and Brandon Callison also ran for touchdowns.
It was a completely different story last week against Harrisburg when Russellville struggled in the first half and then picked things up in the second half. Where Harrisburg was the better team, Paris (3-4) was a very beatable opponent, but the turnover bug continued to affect the Indians, as it has time and again this season.
With the district playoffs looming at the end of October, curing the turnover bug is going to be key for the Indians if they hope to make some noise in their district. Currently, Russellville holds the No. 6 seed in Class 1 District 3 with 19.02 points.
Now Russellville (0-5) turns its sights on its second-to-last home game of the regular season against Sherwood (1-4). The Marksmen dropped a 49-15 decision Friday at El Dorado Springs, their fourth consecutive loss.