LUDLOW, Mo. – For the second consecutive season, the Southwest Livingston football team has clawed its way to the state championship game after defeating Drexel 52-22 in the 8-Man Semifinals on Friday night.

Entering the postseason contest the Wildcats had the No. 1 offense in the state and the Bobcats had the No. 1 defense in the state, but that didn’t stop Southwest Livingston from finding the endzone. Although the Wildcats put up a lot of points, their defense got the credit as they forced five Bobcat turnovers on the night.

The Wildcats wasted no time setting the tone as they gained an early two-possession lead after scoring on back-to-back opening drives. Senior quarterback Wes Hughes rushed in for the first touchdown and two-point conversion before senior running back Patrick Warren ran in from six yards out to give Southwest Livingston a 14-0 lead.

Hughes rushed in for another touchdown in the following period, but Drexel narrowed the gap with a pair of touchdowns and the Wildcats only led the Bobcats 22-14 at the break. With 24 minutes standing between them and another trip to state, the Wildcats defense came out of the locker room with something to prove as they forced back-to-back Bobcat turnovers.

Southwest Livingston capitalized on Drexel’s mistakes and scored 14 more points to take a demanding 36-14 lead with 7:39 left in the period.

The Wildcats cruised through the rest of the second half and shut out the Bobcats offense until a late touchdown with less than a minute remaining. After falling to Mound City in the championship game last year, Southwest Livingston has its sight set on a return this season.

“It left a little bit of a bitter taste in our mouth last year, so it really drove the kids this offseason. I think these guys worked harder than any other team I’ve ever had, so we are excited to get another chance at a championship,” Magruder said.

Southwest Livingston is looking to redeem itself this year when they head to Chillicothe to take on North Andrew at 1 p.m. next Saturday.