The Mules had won the last five meetings with Sikeston, but the Bulldogs snapped the streak in convincing and gratifying fashion.
"It was a big game for us -- getting beat last week and being down, I felt like this week was important for us to come back and play well and we did," said Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery. "Our goal was 7-2, that's what we preached all week, and the kids responded well, practiced good and I think we're going to wind up strong."
If they can beat Perryville next week, Sikeston (6-2) still has a slim chance of reaching the playoffs. But they will need a Cape Central meltdown against Poplar Bluff next week. The Tigers improved to 2-0 in the district with a 29-13 win over Perryville.
Sikeston and Poplar Bluff are both 1-1 in district play.
"We can't worry about that," said Vickery. "We can just go out and take care of ourselves and play as well as we can and finish 7-2 and let the chips fall where they may."
Friday's game might have been the Bulldogs best performance of the year in every phase of the game.
Poplar Bluff (4-5) never threatened at any point as Sikeston staked a 20-0 halftime lead and a 33-0 lead in the fourth quarter. The Mules scored two late touchdowns against the Bulldog reserves to make the final score more respectable.
With a win, the Mules could've played in the district championship game next week against Cape Central. Now, if the Mules and Bulldogs win next week, it will come down to the complicated MSHSAA points system.
And Friday's game puts the Mules back at zero in a tie with Sikeston.
"I just wish we would've given them a better game," said Poplar Bluff head coach Mike Dormady. "They've got some key positions that obviously we didn't stop and made us look bad. We didn't coach them well, we didn't execute well, we didn't do anything real well. (Sikeston) basically won every aspect of the game. All around they just pretty much made us look bad."
Sikeston racked up a season-high 309 yards of offense and a season-high 33 points in the game while containing the Mules' pass-happy offense for most of the night. The Bulldogs forced five turnovers in the game, forced four punts and held the Mules on downs twice.
Poplar Bluff sophomore quarterback Mark Gum had 273 yards passing, completing 23-of-40 with two interceptions and a score, but 107 of his yardage came in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand. He only had 87 passing yards in the first half.
The Bulldogs frustrated the young quarterback with a heavy pass rush, unofficially recording five sacks and several rushed throws.
"I don't know if it rattled him so much as it did the guys up front," said Dormady. "I mean, they didn't protect. It was all stuff that we worked on and prepared for. And when you run our type of offense obviously the number one thing that you're going to do is work on blitz protection. But we had guys busting assignments and we didn't get it done."
The Bulldog defense also stuffed the run all night, holding the Mules to 39 yards on 20 attempts. The Mules had negative rushing yardage until a 53-yard touchdown run by J.J. Lewis with 4:37 left boosted the stats.
"It was a very physical game and I was real pleased that we were able to shut them out because they've got a very good, high-powered offense," said Vickery. "They can put some points on the board in a hurry. And that makes it even more impressive to contain them like we did."
Meanwhile, Sikeston quarterback Blake DeWitt had another big night on the ground. The junior had his second best game of the year with 145 yards rushing on 15 carries with two scores. He broke the 100-yard barrier less than eight minutes into the game on just his fourth carry.
It's his second 100-yard game of the year after the 151-yard effort in the season-opener versus Jackson.
"There's no question, he's the man that you've got to stop when you come in and we pretty much knew that," said Dormady of DeWitt. "But you've still got to be fundamentally sound and at times we weren't. We just didn't do a very good job of tackling and reading and executing. They came out and got the hats on the people that they needed to blocking wise and they did a nice job."
After forcing a three-and-out on Poplar Bluff's opening possession, Sikeston needed just three plays to go 48 yards on DeWitt's 35-yard option keeper with 9:19 left in the first quarter.
On Sikeston's next possession, the Bulldogs marched 90 yards on 10 plays capped by DeWitt's 46-yard quarterback sneak to paydirt with 4:04 left in the first quarter to lead 14-0.
"That was huge," said Vickery. "I think that was a good drive for us. (DeWitt) had some big runs early and that got us going. He did some good things for us and he did a good job of reading the defense. We were audibling which side we wanted to go to. We didn't have just one big play on the drive, we had several good plays. I think being able to drive the ball down that far was kind of the defining moment of the game."
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs stopped the Mules on downs after a botched punt attempt gave Sikeston good field position at their own 47. The Bulldogs scored in four plays when Lavar Morgan took the option pitch and reached the end zone from 23 yards out with 8:15 left in the half.
The two-point conversion pass failed to leave the score at 20-0.
Poplar Bluff had a golden chance to score before the half as they reached the Bulldog 7-yard line, but Lucas Edington's reception was ruled out of bounds as time expired.
In the third quarter, Sikeston recovered a Poplar Bluff fumble at their own 33. The Bulldogs took advantage, marching 67 yards on 12 plays capped by Morgan's 6-yard run with 1:36 left in the third quarter, making the score 26-0.
Sikeston tallied its final score when Michael Colon returned a Gum interception 32 yards for the touchdown with 8:47 left in the game to give the Bulldogs a commanding 33-0 lead.
After Lewis' TD run broke the shutout, Gum found Tony Webb for the two-point conversion to make it 33-8.
The Mules recovered the onside kick and scored on 4th-and-18 when Gum found Webb for a 34-yard TD strike with 2:58 left. The two-point conversion to Whalen George provided the final points of the game at 33-16.
Webb had eight catches for 139 yards, 109 of which came in the second half.
"They took away some of the things we do well and made us do some other things," said Dormady. "It just comes back that we weren't mentally focused enough to come down and execute."