Goolsby held to 48 yards
SIKESTON - Last season, the Kennett Indians shredded the Sikeston Bulldog defense for more than 500 yards of offense.
One year can sure make a difference.
On Friday at Sikeston Public Schools Stadium, the Bulldogs kept the Kennett offense in check the entire game, rolling to a 38-20 win.
After racking up 324 yards rushing in last year's contest, junior standout Tyree Goolsby was held to a season-low 48 yards on 13 carries.
Goolsby entered the game averaging an astonishing 12.3 yards per carry.
It was a complete role-reversal from a year ago, which was a low point in the season for the Bulldogs.
"This is a very big win," said Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery, whose team improves to 3-1. "We felt like we had to redeem ourselves from last year and I thought we came in and played really well for three quarters. We got a little sloppy in the fourth quarter. Our kids were intense all night and we had a good week of practice so I expected us to come out and play well."
In perhaps their most impressive performance of the year, the Bulldogs raced out to a 31-7 lead in the third quarter. In nearly every aspect of the game, Sikeston looked sharp.
"We played a tough team," said Kennett head coach Roland Johnson, whose team falls to 2-2. "They're strong, they're running backs run hard and their line blocks well. They've got that big ole line and they were pretty tough on us. They are much-improved from last year. They were better prepared this year."
Not only was it a stellar defensive effort by Sikeston, but the Bulldogs also had a successful night on offense.
Sikeston rolled up a season-high 273 yards of offense, with 260 coming on the ground.
Junior Lavar Morgan ran for a career-high 101 yards on 17 carries. Heath Hunter, who looked to be full strength from an ankle injury, followed up with a season-high 99 yards on 15 carries.
Even quarterback Drew Lawrence got in on the act, rushing for 36 yards on seven carries, all on quarterback sneaks.
"No question about it, this was our best offensive game of the year," said Vickery. "I felt like we just dominated the line of scrimmage. We got off the football and were able to dominate, especially in the first three quarters."
Once again, Sikeston's special teams were solid, keeping the Indians pinned deep in their own territory, while setting themselves up with tremendous field position all night.
"They were able to capitalize on some good field position," said Johnson. "Early in the game we had bad field position and they kind of intimidated us a little bit. They really came after our punts. I think that really hurt us a lot. They didn't block any but they forced some bad punts."
Sikeston had punt returns of 20, 17 and 35 yards. Those set up scoring drives of 32, 23 and 43 yards.
Sikeston got the scoring started when Hunter plunged in from the 5 to cap an eight-play, 32-yard drive. Andrew Lambert's extra point made it 7-0 with 6:33 left in the first quarter.
The Indians responded on the ensuing kickoff when Goolsby flashed his speed and went 95 yards for the touchdown. Billy Palmer's extra point made it 7-7.
From that point on it was all Sikeston.
A 35-yard punt return by Morgan set up Lawrence's 1-yard TD run with 11:57 left in the second quarter. The point after made it 14-7, capping a four-play, 23-yard drive.
On Kennett's next drive, the Indians ran 11 plays and used four minutes of clock before quarterback Nathan Baker was intercepted by Lambert.
He returned it to the Bulldog 43, setting up good field position once again.
Four plays later, Lawrence took the sneak 19 yards for the touchdown with 6:23 left in the half, making it 21-7.
After forcing another Indian punt, Nathan Eaves returned it to the Indian 43. The Bulldogs scored in four plays again, this time on a 6-yard run by Morgan with 2:52 left, making it 28-7.
The Indians threatened to score before the half but a 13-play drive stalled at the Bulldog 24.
In an effort to keep the clock moving, the Bulldogs kept things simple in the second half. Sikeston drove 59 yards, using 6:38 of clock before setting for a Lambert 37-yard field goal.
That made the score 31-7 with 5:22 left in the third quarter. The field goal punctuated a strong special teams performance.
"We had one breakdown (on Goolsby's kick return) and we can't have that," said Vickery. "But our special teams have really been playing well. We didn't miss any extra points, we hit another field goal -- we had the one breakdown on the kick return but other than that our special teams got us good field position all night."
Kennett put together its most impressive drive of the night in the third quarter, marching 71 yards in 15 plays. But the problem was the drive took more than seven minutes off the clock.
Goolsby, who was held to minus-seven yards on eight carries at one point, ripped off a 38-yard run before being tackled at the one-yard line by Tori Rose.
It proved to be a big play as Kennett wasted nearly two minutes trying to punch it in. The Indians finally got the score when Baker found Pritchett with a 2-yard pass. The kick was blocked to make the score 31-13.
The Bulldogs iced the game when they drove 53 yards in nine plays, scoring on a Hunter 5-yard run to make it 38-13.
The Indians tacked on one last score when Pritchett caught an 11-yard pass from Baker with 1:05 left in the game.
But the story of the game was the Bulldog defense. Other than Goolsby's 38-yard run, the Indians' longest run of the night was 10 yards on a fake punt. Kennett managed just 92 yards rushing on 32 carries.
Baker had a big passing night, completing 13-of-29 passes for 167 yards with two interceptions. Pritchett snared seven passes for 82 yards.
"They threw the ball on us a little bit -- he's a good quarterback and they've got good receivers," said Vickery. "They've got some weapons and they have a lot of speed and it was important for us to hold them down. I thought we did a good job."
Sikeston will play at SEMO North rival Poplar Bluff on Friday night. Kennett will host Portageville.