But the Tigers showed why they are the top-ranked team in Class 2 as they posted 41 points in a 17-minute span during the second and third quarters to cruise past the Bluejays, 49-7.
Caruthersville (11-0) will host Lutheran St. Peters, who were 35-7 winners over Maplewood, on Monday at 7 p.m. in a quarterfinal game.
"We played a great football team and we didn't play our best," said Charleston coach Brent Anderson. "But they've got a lot to do with that. We've got nothing to be ashamed of. We had a pretty good season, but we're disappointed right now."
Charleston (8-3), which lost to the Tigers 44-0 in the third week of the season, looked to be up to the challenge of a possible upset in the early going Wednesday.
The Bluejays marched into the Tiger red zone but a shotgun snap sailed over quarterback Josh Marshall's head, resulting in a 23-yard loss on the play, effectively ruining the drive.
The Bluejays had to settle for a punt after 16 plays and nearly seven minutes of clock time resulted in zero points.
"You've got to make things happen and you've got to finish drives off," said Anderson. "We haven't had a bad shotgun snap all year and tonight we had one. It didn't cost us the football game, but it allowed them to go up 7-0 when we could've gone up 7-0."
The Tigers put together a 10-play, 78-yard drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Kendrickus Reed, who was seeing his first extensive action since an injury sidelined him earlier in the season.
Reed's TD gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead at the 6:17 mark of the second quarter.
After forcing a Bluejay punt, Caruthersville tacked on another touchdown, this time on a quarterback keeper by Keith Creekmore from five yards out with 1:56 left in the half.
The kick was blocked but the Tigers took a 13-0 lead into halftime.
Desperate to get anything going, Charleston attempted an onside kick which they appeared to have recovered, but Bobby Clark couldn't secure the ball, giving the Tigers good starting field position.
"We got the onside kick and B.J. just couldn't corral it," said Anderson. "That's just one of those deals where you take a chance, which you have to do sometimes against good football teams. We felt like that was one we needed to take."
The tough break was just the beginning of a disastrous third quarter for the Bluejays as Caruthersville scored 28 points in the period.
"When you're in a playoff game you don't play to lose," said Caruthersville coach David Gilmore of the onside kick. "If I was in that same situation I probably would've done the same thing. You've got to try to get a spark. With the way we were going at the end of the first half, it probably didn't matter if we were at the 30 or the 50. You can't second-guess yourself, you just make a decision and go with it."
The Tigers needed just four plays to go 51 yards as 1,000-yard rusher Adam Cecil scored from 14 yards out to extend the lead to 19-0.
Just 12 seconds later, Marshall was stuffed on an option play and fumbled. The ball bounced into the hands of Evan Gibson, who returned the fumble 20 yards for the touchdown to extend the lead to 25-0.
After forcing another punt, Caruthersville marched 71 yards on eight plays capped by Cecil's 2-yard TD run with 4:01 left in the third. Plessie Ellitt caught the two-point conversion pass to push the lead to 33-0.
Charleston stopped he bleeding momentarily as it needed just five plays to cover 70 yards for its only score of the game with Marshall finding Jamarcus Williams in the end zone from 17 yards out.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Williams out-leaped 6-foot James Jones on a jump-ball pass to get the TD. Dustin Allen's kick trimmed the lead to 33-7 with 2:14 left in the third.
"We gave up some yardage tonight but we only gave up seven points," said Gilmore. "James Jones was in great position and it was a great play by the Charleston player that made that grab."
Caruthersville wasted little time in building the lead back up as another failed onside kick gave them excellent field position at the Bluejay 36.
Five plays later, Creekmore found Kyle Hubbard for an 8-yard touchdown reception. Cecil's two-point conversion run pushed the lead to 41-7.
Reed added his second touchdown of the game on a 27-yard, tackle-breaking run with 10:10 left in the fourth quarter. Reed's two-point conversion run reached the final margin as the mercy rule kept the clock running the rest of the way.
Cecil led all ball-carriers with 117 yards on 12 carries. Reed added 71 yards on 13 carries and Paul Sanders had 41 yards on four carries.
"It really solidifies our run game," said Gilmore of getting Reed back. "He didn't get a lot of carries last week against East Prairie and tonight in my mind was really his first game back. He didn't light it on fire, like he was early in the year, but he's been hurt for seven weeks now. That's going to give Cecil a break and we can utilize more of our weapons."
Creekmore threw for 175 yards on 9-of-17 passes. Hubbard had four catches for 83 yards while Ellitt had 72 yards on four carries.
"There were some throws where he threaded into double-coverage," said Gilmore. "His confidence has grown over the course of 11 weeks and for a first-year quarterback to play with that confidence, it makes your play-calling easier. If the defense can keep holding people down, we're going to keep playing wide-open offense and take chances."
Caruthersville out-gained the Bluejays 429-to-207, including 254 yards coming on the ground.
Charleston was led by Joseph Watts' 64 yards rushing on 15 carries. But after Watts, the Bluejays couldn't get anything going on the ground as the rest of the team lost 15 yards on 12 carries, including the 23 yards lost on the bad shotgun snap.
Marshall threw for 158 yards, completing 10-of-26 passes with two interceptions. Williams led the way with 53 yards receiving on two catches.
The Bluejays played the game without senior captain and standout tight end Ashton Farmer, who is out with mononucleosis.
"He's a sick puppy and we would've loved to have him," said Anderson. "Would he had made a difference? I don't know. You can always 'if and but and woulda, coulda, shoulda' yourself to death. But we got beat by a good football team. I still know that we've got a good football team in Charleston that this town is proud of and I'm proud of. We've got a lot of young kids coming back and we're excited about that. We'll clean some things up, get in the weight room and see what happens."