(Photos by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
But unfortunately for the Bulldogs, football games are designed for two halves.
As good as Sikeston looked in the first half, NMCC looked even better in the second half as the Eagles rallied to a 35-25 homecoming victory, snapping a two-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.
"These guys never say die," said NMCC head coach Steve Rogers. "They could've folded their tent and they didn't. I don't know if anyone left at halftime, but if they did they missed a heck of a ballgame."
The loss leaves a bitter taste for Sikeston, which seemingly had the game well in hand, only to let it slip away.
The Bulldog offense performed as well as it had all year in the first half, racking up 303 yards. But the Eagle defense limited the Bulldogs to just 25 yards in the second half.
The short offensive drives were enough to keep the Bulldog defense on the field for extended periods in the second half.
"We were trying to protect the lead and I was trying to play the clock a little bit," said Vickery. "But we can't play that type of football. We're a type team that's not going to be able to smash it.
"You hate to come out and just constantly throw the ball in the second half. But looking back in retrospect, if I had to do it again, I would've come out and run the same stuff as we did in the first half. If you have incompletions, then you have incompletions."
And while Sikeston was punting the ball, NMCC's offense had found its stride.
The Bulldogs limited NMCC's star running back Remond Willis to just 51 yards on 14 carries in the first half.
But the 6-foot-1, 220-pound senior exploded in the second half for 198 yards, finishing with a game-high 249 yards on a whopping 40 carries.
Most of the damage was done in the fourth quarter. The Bulldog defense had still held Willis in check for the first three quarters as he had 108 yards on 27 carries at one point in the fourth quarter.
But the gassed Bulldog defense couldn't hold him forever as his final 13 carries of the game netted 141 yards.
"When he wants to play he can dominate a game -- and I thought he was the man in the second half," said Rogers. "With him running so well it opens up a lot of other things for us. He's the workhorse for us, he's going to get the ball. I didn't realize he had 40 carries, but like they say that ball's not very heavy."
Willis scored three touchdowns in the second half, the final one, a 47-yard run down the left sideline, sealed the game for the Eagles with 3:48 left to play.
"We didn't tackle very well in the second half, but when you've got a good back, a good athlete like that, it's tough to bring him down sometimes," said Vickery. "A couple times we were right there and he slid off of us. He's an outstanding running back. He's big, strong and fast."
In the first half, the Eagles took their opening possession of the game and marched 65 yards on 11 plays capped by a 3-yard reverse by Edgar Givens.
Brandon Fields kicked the first of his five extra points to give the Eagles the 7-0 lead.
It was all Sikeston from there in the first half.
The Bulldogs responded with a four-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by Felante Larry's 61-yard run before being tackled at the 8-yard line.
Apollo Patterson punched it in on the next play with 4:29 left in the first quarter. Ryan Dicus kicked the PAT to tie the game.
After holding the Eagles to three-and-out, Sikeston drove the field again. A 58-yard pass play to Scotty Keenan got the ball inside the 5-yard line.
A procedure penalty wiped out a touchdown run by Jacob Priday and the Bulldogs had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Dicus, giving the team a 10-7 lead.
Once again Sikeston held NMCC to three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and they were able to put together another scoring drive.
The Bulldogs needed just three plays to go 64 yards as Patterson broke off a 41-yard touchdown run down the left sideline. Dicus' extra point made it 17-7 with 11:04 left in the half.
Later in the quarter, Sikeston held NMCC on downs at the Eagle 34-yard line. That set up a 6-play, 34-yard drive capped by quarterback Stephen Miller's 1-yard plunge with 32 seconds left in the half.
The two-point conversion run by Patterson pushed the Bulldog lead to 25-7 heading into halftime.
"We just didn't do very many things right in the first half," said Rogers. "We had that first series with a couple misdirection plays where we scored. And then we get in a mode where we think, 'well that was pretty easy, it's going to be an easy night.' We really didn't do anything right the rest of the first half."
But the second half was a different story.
The Eagles took their opening possession of the third quarter and marched 80 yards on 12 plays. Willis punched it in from four yards out to cut the lead to 25-14, which is where things stood until the fourth quarter.
"Really we didn't make a whole lot of adjustments at halftime," said Rogers. "We just appealed to the guys, 'hey, our pride's on the line. Let's play Eagle football and show what we're made of, and try to peck away and get back in this game.'"
After forcing a Sikeston punt, Givens returned it 38 yards to Bulldog 29-yard line. The Eagles needed just three plays to score as Willis took it in from five yards out to cut the lead to 25-21 with 10:51 left in the game.
Again the Eagles forced the Bulldogs to punt on their next possession.
NMCC then promptly marched 74 yards on six plays. Givens scored the go-ahead TD on an 8-yard reverse with 5:24 left in the game, making the score 28-25.
The Bulldogs had one last drive to try to tie or win the game, but the series ended on downs when a Keenan reception was just a yard short at their own 35.
NMCC was able to run out the remaining 2:45 on the clock.
"What we learned from this is number one, you've got to play two halves," said Vickery. "And number two, when you're clicking and playing well then you can play with anybody. I think New Madrid's as good as anybody around. We were hammering them pretty good on both sides of the ball in the first half. In the second half they took it to us."
Even with the poor second half, statistically the Bulldogs had one of their best offensive games of the season.
Miller completed 8-of-18 passes for 142 yards. He was 5-of-8 for 109 yards in the first half.
Keenan caught four passes for 98 yards.
Patterson had his second best rushing game of the year, gaining 104 yards on 15 carries, but he only had six yards on four carries in the second half.
After gaining just 113 yards by halftime, the Eagles finished with 334 yards of offense.
"We've been a second half ballclub all year," said Rogers. "In the first half, Sikeston did a lot of things to disrupt us. I always enjoy competing against Charlie. He does a good job and he's got a great staff. His kids play hard, but I think we wore them down a little bit at the end."
NMCC quarterback Darrel Newsom was 4-of-12 passing for 33 yards. Givens, who is committed to Mizzou, finished with 113 all-purpose yards.
NMCC improves to 4-2 on the season while the Bulldogs fall to 3-3 heading into the open date.
NMCC will travel to Breese, Ill., to take on Mater Dei, a private Catholic school.
"We like to fancy ourselves as giant killers," said Rogers. "We like the challenge of playing the bigger schools. We don't always win, but normally we give them a good ballgame and a good effort."