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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Fredericktown runs over Dexter

Sunday, November 9, 2003

Fredericktown's George DePuy (22) is tackled by Dexter's Dustin Mayer and Derek Roberts.
DEXTER - All year long the Dexter Bearcats had trouble getting a ground game going.

And so, they would turn to the arm of junior quarterback Kyle Espey.

More often than not, Espey did his part, throwing pinpoint passes right in the receivers' hands.

That's when things got a little dicey.

Although most high school teams don't keep a dropped passes stat chart, the Bearcats had more than their fair share this season.

That continued to plague Dexter on Friday night in their season finale as they lost to Fredericktown 30-12 at Charles Bland Stadium.

In addition to having difficulty finding a replacement for all-time leading rusher Matt Burnett, the Bearcats (5-5) also never could replace top receiver Willie Dooley.

The result was an ineffective offense week after week.

Against Fredericktown, Espey completed 9-of-22 passes for 121 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown.

At least half of the incompletions were dropped passes right in the receiver's hands, including one that would've been a touchdown in the first half.

"(Espey) was on the money all night long," said Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley. "He was hitting receivers right and left and we were dropping everything early. It kind of reminded me of the Caruthersville game -- when we finally started catching the ball it was too little too late. We could've had a totally different game if we had caught the balls in the first half that we needed to."

Meanwhile, Dexter's ground game mustered just 76 yards rushing on 26 attempts.

Senior Garrett Williams led the way with 36 yards on 13 carries.

"That's something we have to get better at next year obviously," said Pixley. "Part of the reason our passing game hasn't work that good this year is because our running game hasn't worked very well. When your quarterback is getting blitzed on every play then that makes it hard to throw the football. We've got to get more physical on the running game."

On the other side of the ball, Fredericktown (7-3) was plenty physical with the running game as they were able to churn up 259 yards rushing out of their Wishbone offense.

The Blackcats, who ran the ball 55 times, established an early lead and were able to eat up clock and yards throughout the game.

Fredericktown got off to a quick start when they intercepted Espey on the second play of the game when the pass ricocheted off a Bearcat receiver into the hands of Joaby Sikes, who returned it 42 yards to inside the 10-yard line.

It was reminiscent of one week before when Espey was picked off on the first play of the game against NMCC.

"It was almost deja vu from the New Madrid game, except it happened on the second play," said Pixley. "We throw a good pass, it hits our guy in the facemask, the ball bounces up and he's gone."

The Blackcats were able to punch it in from there when George DePuy scored on a 3-yard plunge. Kyle Tesreau's two-point conversion pass was complete to Sikes to lead 8-0 with 9:49 left in the first quarter.

"We knew that momentum early was going to be big and we felt like we needed to create some momentum," said Fredericktown head coach Kent Gibbs. "Our defense gave us a big lift. That was a great way to get started. You look up and it was 8-0 pretty quick."

As the Dexter offense continued to sputter throughout the first quarter, Fredericktown was able to extend the lead to 16-0.

Kyle Stephens broke loose for a 30-yard run and DePuy added the two-point conversion run with 1:29 left in the first.

Dexter was able to get on the board with 10:33 left in the second quarter when Espey hit Derek Roberts on a short route. Roberts did the rest as he sprinted down the right sideline for an 18-yard TD reception.

The two-point conversion run failed, leaving the Blackcats with a 16-6 lead.

Less than three minutes later, Fredericktown answered right back. Stephens scored on a 2-yard plunge to extend the lead to 22-6 heading into halftime.

"We felt good at halftime," said Pixley. "We felt like we could come out, sustain some stuff and stop them on defense. We felt like we had a good shot at winning. The kids were up at halftime, they weren't down on themselves."

But the Blackcats may have zapped the Bearcats of what emotion they had as they built a commanding lead in the third quarter on Stephens' 18-yard TD run.

Tesreau found D.J. Hinkle on the two-point conversion pass to extend the lead to 30-6 with 9:42 left in the third.

Tesreau was only 3-of-9 passing for the game, but his three completions covered 54 yards and he completed a couple two-point conversion passes to keep the Dexter defense honest.

"We were going to throw it a little bit more, but they were blitzing so much and we didn't feel like we'd have the time to do it," said Gibbs. "We did pretty much stay with the run, although we had two or three pretty big pass plays."

Dexter tacked on one final score with 3:15 left in the game when Williams scored on a 1-yard run to cut the lead to 30-12.

The Bearcats recovered the onside kick, but their last gasp drive ended on an interception by Brandon Leach when Espey's arm was hit while throwing.

It was just that kind of night for the Bearcats.

"He had a good game throwing the ball and if that's an indication on how it's going to be next year, we're going to be awful tough," said Pixley. "But then again if it's any indication of us dropping the football, we may not. We've had a lot of kids drop passes that don't mean to drop passes that are going to work on it and come back with better hands. I feel my football team's effort was there tonight. I felt like Fredericktown was a very good football team and they earned the win."

Stephens finished with 150 yards rushing on 29 carries with three touchdowns. DePuy added 93 yards on 15 carries.

Fredericktown came into the season with hopes of winning the school's first district championship since 1983, but a 21-8 loss to NMCC ended their chances.

"We went into the season wanting to win the district, so we're disappointed that we didn't," said Gibbs. "When you look back on our season, we beat Ste. Genevieve 33-12 and they're the ones coming out of that other district. We just didn't feel like we played as well as we could play against New Madrid."