Breaking down Mark Twain's 49-0 loss to North Callaway on Friday:

NO SPACE TO WORK WITH

Mark Twain's offensive line impressed coach Karl Asbury with its prowess up front during the Tigers' Week 1 matchup against Milan, when a young core of running backs led by sophomore Jace Barton found holes en route to a 28-14 victory.

Facing what Asbury termed “the same type” of defense Friday during a 49-0 loss to North Callaway, cracks in the line were exposed.

Quarterback Lincoln Talbott was sacked twice and three rushing plays went for negative yardage during Mark Twain's first four possessions, three of which were 3-and-outs. Meanwhile, the visiting Thunderbirds' capitalized on the Tigers' slow start for 28 points in the first quarter.

While Mark Twain started moving the chains with a pair of first downs in the second quarter, North Callaway's defensive line wreaked havoc all night long, limiting the Tigers to less than one yard per carry.

“It's the same type of defense we've seen three weeks in a row, so I don't know why we're going backward on things,” Asbury mentioned afterward. “Milan ran the same defense. Hallsville (Week 2) kind of had the same. We've seen it. We'll look at the film again and see where we're going wrong, but I told them, 'Where's that offensive line we had Week 1?' We've got to fire out and get 'em, and we've got to find that same mentality again.”

NOT WITHOUT POSITIVES

The frustrating lopsided loss did reveal some positives for Mark Twain.

Barton delivered a quarterback sack on North Callaway's first drive of the game to force a third-and-21. He teamed up with Mathias Bridges to bring down Thunderbird quarterback Tully Thomsen. However, that shining moment on defense was soon overshadowed by a breakdown, as North Callaway struck on fourth-and-8 for a 33-yard touchdown pass. 

Early in the second quarter, Tiger defenders Aidan Epperson and Nathan Davenport came up with big tackles on back-to-back plays before the Mark Twain secondary forced Thomsen into an incomplete pass on a fourth-down fade route intended for receiver Austin Edwards. The turnover on downs was the Thunderbirds' first non-scoring drive of the night.

Mark Twain forced a punt on North Callaway's next possession thanks to a third-and-long pass breakup by Tiger sophomore Brayden McLeod.

LOOKING AHEAD

Mark Twain (1-2, 0-1 Eastern Missouri Conference) looks to bounce back this Friday against Wright City, which is coming off a 48-6 loss to South Callaway.

“We're going to try to get better and improve,” Asbury said. “We've still got time. We've got to go step by step. This week we've got Wright City, and we're going to try to get better on all sides of the ball.”

THEY SAID IT

“Just like giving candy to kids on Halloween, we gave up 28 points in the first quarter on some free, easy stuff. It's just too easy for 'em. Against a team that's pretty good, you take out those 28 points and you've got a respectable score. We may not win, but it's a different game.” – Mark Twain coach Karl Asbury