NMCC (1-3, 0-1) actually edged Charleston (3-1, 2-1) in total offense, 351 to 343, however, two long interception returns -- 95 and 90 yards -- and a forced fumble on a punt attempt negated any statistical parity, leading to 16 Bluejay points.
"We made some big plays," said Charleston coach Brent Anderson, who has defeated NMCC two out of three years. "That's the story of this game."
Turnovers and the Eagles' inability to cash in on several red-zone opportunities was their downfall.
NMCC coach Arlen Pixley said, "Against a ballclub like Charleston, they're very opportunistic, and, you can't give a well-coached team like that those kind of opportunities." It began unraveling for the Eagles about midway through the second period with the score deadlocked at 6-6.
With Charleston's 6-foot-6 Ashton Farmer in his face, New Madrid punter Malcolm Long mishandled the snap and Jamarcus Williams recovered at the Eagle 8-yard line. Two plays later, Charleston quarterback Josh Marshall fell into the end zone on a sneak from the 1 for a 12-6 lead.
The first half ended shortly after the Eagles had marched from their own 26 to the Charleston 9 when the potential game-tying drive stalled after a third-and-one sack and an incomplete pass on fourth down. Charleston held a 12-6 lead at the half.
On the first possession after the intermission, New Madrid caught a break when a low, short punt was muffed by a Charleston returner and the Eagles pounced on the ball at the Bluejay 44.
Fullback Antonio McIntosh, the Eagles' workhorse (16 carries, 111 yards) with all of their top three running backs, Terrance Smith, Printice Willis and speedster Jeffery McFarland, sidelined with injuries, broke a run to the Charleston 10.
But that opportunity ended in disappointment when Justin Clark picked off Jordan Kimball's pass and returned it 90 yards to the New Madrid 7. Charleston settled for a 25-yard field goal by Dustin Allen to extend its lead to 15-6.
"I think we were flat in the first half," said Anderson. "I'm happy with our kids because we could have easily maintained that lull in the second half, but we decided to start attacking; we decided to get after the quarterback; we decided to start making plays."
Later in the third quarter, again with excellent field position, Charleston parlayed a two-play drive into a 20-yard touchdown toss from Marshall to Clark to up the lead to 22-6. The touchdown was set up on a 20-yard reverse by freshman wideout Zach Bradley.
Another field goal, a 28-yarder, by Allen pushed the margin to 25-6 with 12 seconds gone in the final period.
In that final quarter, New Madrid again mounted an impressive drive from its own 30 to the Charleston 12, the big play, a 65-yard pass and run from Kimball to Joshua Kirby.
But once again disaster struck.
This time Bobby Clark stepped in front of the intended receiver and streaked 95 yards down the right sideline for a 32-6 Charleston advantage.
The Bluejays, with Bobby Clark (8 carries, 58 yards) running effectively in the first half, gave the Eagles a heavy dose of fresh-legged Joseph Watts in the second half.
Watts broke runs of 40 and 51 yards on his way to a game-high rushing total of 120 yards in eight trips -- 112 in the second half. He scored the Bluejays' final touchdown on a 4-yard run at the 3:42 mark of the fourth quarter.
"We've got two special tailbacks," said Anderson, "and we're just trying to find a way to distribute the ball to both of them." Bobby Clark tallied Charleston's initial touchdown on a 10-yard run at the 5:08 mark of the first quarter.
The Bluejays opened a seven-play series at the New Madrid 40 following a short punt.
New Madrid came roaring back with a 65-yard drive to paydirt on Jordan Kimball's 12-yard option keeper to tie the score at 6-6 before three scoreless quarters.
NMCC, already young and inexperienced and, now, riddled with injuries, will get a lot younger and lot less experienced quickly.
"We're 1-3, but we haven't hit the panic button," said Pixley. "It would be nice to win the first seven (games), but it's the last three (districts) that count."
It doesn't get easier for NMCC which tangles with undefeated SEMO Central leader and, arguably, the area's best team, Caruthersville, on Friday night at New Madrid.
Charleston travels to Malden, a 56-0 loser to Dexter, for a non-conference encounter on Friday.