MALDEN - Malden High School treated football fans in an impressive half-time fireworks show, but it paled in comparison to the offensive explosion on the football field by the Dexter Bearcats.
Seven different Bearcats got in on the scoring festivities as Dexter lit up the scoreboard with a dominating 56-0 win over the Malden Green Wave.
Dexter scored twice in the first quarter (14-0) then put a match to the show's grand finale early with a 28-point outburst in the second quarter and a commanding 42-0 lead at half-time.
The loud booms and colorful, sizzling sparkles of the half-time fireworks show could do nothing to ignite the Green Wave players and fans after the 'Cats show-stopping first-half performance.
Derek Roberts (two touchdowns), Jake Smith (two touchdowns), Alex Becker (two touchdowns and a two point conversion), Levi Rawson (one touchdown), Zach Ventura (one touchdown), Ben Robinson (six extra points) and Loan Swindle (one extra point) all got in on the scoring frenzy for the Bearcats.
Dexter quarterback Kyle Espey didn't score, but he did complete 6-of-12 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns.
"I felt like we executed pretty good in spots and not so good in other spots," Dexter coach Aaron Pixley said after the game. " We just kept fighting and playing hard. And on a hot, muggy night, it's tough on kids to get out there and keep their emotions up, and stay fired up. For the most part I felt like we did a pretty good job."
Dexter scored the first three times it had the ball and finished the night crossing the goal line on eight of it's ten possessions.
Dexter rolled up 349 yards of offense and tacked on an additional 118 return yards. The bulk of the return yards came on Derek Roberts' 74-yard punt return for a touchdown with 2:06 remaining in the first half.
"That's a good sign now," Pixley said when informed that his team averaged 8.9 yards per play against the Green Wave. "We've got to execute like that the rest of the season because the rest of the season it gets tough. Games are going to get tougher around here that's for sure so we definitely have to get better and make sure we execute against some of the bigger, more high-powered schools."
For the second time in two weeks, Dexter's defense has held the opposition to less than 100 yards of total offense. The 'Cats swarming defense limited Malden to a meager 66 yards, while holding Sikeston to 83 last week.
Dexter's defense also produced an interception by Eric Rinehart and a forced fumble by Austin Matthews and a fumble recovery by Aaron Lavender. Defensively Dexter also had three sacks for minus 19 yards and seven tackles for losses.
Malden, now 1-3 on the year, was without its starting running back, Trey Porter, who sat out the game for disciplinary reasons.
Dexter, now 3-1 on the season, scored early and often.
On the 'Cats third play of their first possession, Smith ran a wide receiver reverse around right end for a 30-yard score. The point after was no good, and Dexter led 6-0 with less than four minutes gone from the game clock.
After a four-and-out by Malden, Espey connected with Roberts for a 18-yard touchdown strike to cap an 11-play 58-yard drive. The two point run by Becker left Dexter on top 14-0 with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter.
Four downs later, a punt by Malden's Kyle Brown pinned Dexter back on its own 17 yards line.
Four plays later, Espey connected with Levi Rawson for a 69-yard bomb and the successful PAT by Ben Robinson left Dexter on top 21-0 at the 11:26 mark of the second quarter.
Malden and Dexter traded possessions, but a diving interception in front of the Bearcats' bench by Rinehart at the Malden 25 yard line brought the offense back to the field. Two plays later Becker broke up the middle for a 16-yard touchdown and the PAT moved Dexter's lead to 28-0.
Lavender's fumble recovery on the next series bought Dexter's explosive offense back on the field at the Malden 24 yard line and on he first play Espey connected with Smith for the second time and a 35-0 Dexter lead after the PAT.
Malden's following possession resulted in a Brown punt that Dexter's Roberts fielded at his own 26 yard line.
The speedy return man raced down the sideline for a 74-yard return touchdown that set the half-time score at 42-0 after a successful PAT by Robinson.
Dexter took the kickoff to open the second half and proceeded to produce a eight play drive capped by Becker's 8-yard run to paydirt and a 49-0 lead with the PAT.
Becker had 33 of his game-high 69-yard rushing on the opening second half drive.
"I felt like by running backs ran hard all night long," Pixley said. "I felt like they were tough yards and they broke off some good hard runs. Al (Alex Becker) got hit at the line of scrimmage a couple of times and broke some tackle and made some good runs."
"Then Pennington (Bryan, 4-for-30 yards) comes in and breaks a really good run and we hold on it," Pixley said when asked about his team's improvement in the penalty department. "At that point in the game the score was out of hand a little bit, but we hit the hole and you sure don't want to see that (penalty) out of your kids. But I'm glad the penalties were down (3-for-25 yards).
Zach Ventura put Dexter's final points of the on the board when the second unit put together a six play, 53-yard scoring drive. Ventura's 33-yard gallop finished the drive and Logan Swindle's PAT set the game's final score, 56-0.
"Our kids know that from here on out its hard-nosed, tough football, and you better be mentality into the football games," Pixley said when asked if this type of win might make it hard to prepare of next week's game. "You better be sprinting and running hard and playing as hard as you can because Poplar Bluff will present a great challenge to us, because they're a good football team that's played great football teams for the first four weeks of their schedule.
"They are going to come to Dexter for sure hungry and we've got to make sure we're very aggressive and very emotional and stay up for the game all night long because they are going to bring it all night that's for sure," Pixley concluded.