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Monday, Sep. 1, 2014

East Prairie overwhelmed in 56-0 loss to Caruthersville

Sunday, October 26, 2003

(Photo)
Jimmy Jackson runs for a gain.
CARUTHERSVILLE - When David Gilmore left Hayti to take the head coaching position at Caruthersville, most felt the rebuilding process would take at least a year and probably more.

But so far things have progressed way ahead of schedule for the Tigers.

They clinched their first SEMO Central Conference championship since 1994 last week when they defeated Dexter. And on Friday night at Hopke Field, with a 56-0 dismantling of East Prairie, the Tigers took their first step towards winning the school's first district championship since that same year.

"We're peaking and this is the time of the year where you want to peak," said Gilmore. "A lot of teams peak early and they kind of taper off at the end. This is the time of the year where we've got to keep everything fine-tuned and get it steamrolling going into the playoffs."

After rolling through their first seven games with only one blemish, a 28-21 loss to Hayti, the Tigers (7-1) are now heavy favorites to win Class 2, District 1.

Malden upset two-time defending district champion Portageville 27-24 on Friday, putting the Tigers in the driver's seat.

Next Friday night, Caruthersville will travel to Portageville, who beat the Tigers 29-27 last season.

"We've got to stay focused and now our focus turns towards Portageville," said Gilmore. "We're going to try to make our second goal come true and that's win a district and make the playoffs."

Despite turning the ball over on downs on their first two possessions, the Tigers still scored three touchdowns in the first quarter.

East Prairie (3-4) turned the ball over on their first three possessions.

The Tigers got on the board with some razzle-dazzle -- a double reverse flea-flicker as quarterback Rogers VanAusdall, who then hit Plessie Ellitt for a 28-yard touchdown pass to lead 6-0 with 3:56 left in the quarter.

An interception by Marshane Foreman set up the score.

After an East Prairie fumble, the Tigers reached paydirt again when Jimmy Jackson scampered in from 28 yards out to lead 12-0 with 2:19 left in the first.

A 14-yard punt gave the Tigers good field position once again at their own 47. Caruthersville needed just 19 seconds to score as VanAusdall hit Kyle Hubbard in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown.

Freddie Rodgers' two-point conversion run increased the lead to 20-0 with 24 seconds left in the first.

The Tigers put the game away with 29 points in the second quarter.

VanAusdall had touchdown passes to Dominic Branch, Hubbard and Jackson. Jackson also had a 9-yard TD run, giving the Tigers a 49-0 lead at the half.

"Our first two drives went down and stalled, we should've got out of there with some points," said Gilmore. "But our kids did a good job of regrouping. We just kept pounding -- we knew we could throw the ball on them. Our receivers made some great catches."

The clock ran the entire second half due to the mercy rule. Caruthersville tacked on one final touchdown when backup quarterback Keith Creekmore hit Adam McDowell for a 5-yard TD pass with 3:51 left in the third quarter.

"I didn't know we could get on them like this," said Gilmore. "But we've got the capability of grinding it out, or we can be explosive and put it out of reach early. And that's what we did tonight."

VanAusdall had his best game of the year, completing 12-of-16 passes for 243 yards with five TD tosses, all in the first half.

Jackson, who also didn't play in the second half, rushed for 140 yards on 10 carries. He added three catches for 33 yards.

The Tigers racked up 534 yards of offense, gaining 261 on the ground and 273 through the air.

East Prairie only managed 96 yards of offense and was plagued by turnovers the entire night. In addition to the interception, the Eagles fumbled the ball nine times, losing four of them.

At one point, the Eagles fumbled the snap on four straight plays.

"It's hard (to stay intense) when that happens," said East Prairie head coach Brett Blackman. "Our kids didn't give up by no means. It's kind of like a snowball effect. When things go wrong, they go wrong."

The Eagles were led in rushing by Josh Boyer with 56 yards on 11 carries. Paris Tipler followed up with 43 yards on 15 carries.

"East Prairie is a much improved ballclub," said Gilmore. "We just caught them. They had some turnovers and we were able to capitalize with the short field and punch it in on them and get up big in the first half. Once our offense gets going we can put a lot of points on the board quick. But it helps when our defense is causing turnovers too."

It was a disheartening loss for the Eagles, considering the team had won three games in a row before losing a close one to Charleston last week, 28-20.

"I felt like we had a good gameplan going into tonight of trying to keep the ball and run the clock out," said Blackman. "But we didn't do that. We knew that they were going to score and Jackson was hard to contain, and we didn't do that. We didn't execute our gameplan. They're a tremendous team and they made us look like this was our first football game."

East Prairie will host Malden next Friday at 7:30 p.m.