EAST PRAIRIE -- Fulton County scored 17 unanswered points on East Prairie, rallying to a 17-10 victory for their first win of the season Friday night.
The Pilots (1-4) came in on a 12-game losing streak, dating back to last season's Week 3 game against Portageville. They had been outscored 161-2 this year.
"Excited would be an understatement," said an ecstatic David Gallagher, head coach of Fulton County. "Our offense hadn't scored a point coming into this game. We busted the player's butts a little bit this week, and got more physical with them. We're happy with the results. We want to enjoy this because it's been a long dry-spell."
For East Prairie head coach John Garner, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
"We should've put them away," he said. "When you give a team that is itching for a win the chance to come back, this is what happens. It's just really tough for a program like ours. We needed a win just as bad as they did, just to keep us rolling."
East Prairie (1-3) was in control of the game early, rushing for 152 yards in the first half. Josh Boyer had 126 of those yards, eventually finishing with 196 yards on a whopping 36 carries.
"Josh had a great game, but it would've been a heck of a lot better if we had won," said Garner. "He's running the ball well, we just couldn't get it in the end zone."
Last week the sophomore had 171 yards on 34 attempts against Scott City.
East Prairie opened the game with a seven-play drive that covered 85 yards, and ended with an 11-yard touchdown run by Josh Boyer.
Fulton County immediately fumbled the ball away, and it was recovered by East Prairie's Cory Hutcheson on the Pilot 21. The Eagles didn't capitalize on the excellent field position by putting it in the end zone, but Aaron Gifford split the uprights with a 23-yard field goal to give East Prairie a 10-0 lead.
"I'm so proud of the guys for coming back, because they could've easily decided to get back on the bus when East Prairie jumped out to that lead," said Gallagher. "We were on the ropes."
Fulton County's second possession of the game also resulted in a turnover, as Josh Thurman recovered a fumble at the Pilot 28. East Prairie failed to put any points on the board, eventually turning the ball back over to the Pilots on the 21.
"We could've put them away right there in the first quarter, but we didn't do it," said Garner. "When you're a good football team and you're ready to win, that is what you have to do. Our kids are learning and we're moving on."
Fulton County managed to hold onto the ball on its third possession, and took it 79 yards on 12 plays. Quarterback Jared Warner capped off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to David Polk, shaving the lead to 10-7.
Later in the quarter, Warner tied the score at 10-10 with a 23-yard field goal.
With 5:31 left in the game, Fulton County took the lead as Warner found Lamont Smith on a go-route for a 68-yard touchdown. Warner then kicked the PAT to give the Pilots what would be the 17-10 victory.
"We've got two big receivers, and they were both able to catch tonight," said Gallagher. "They hadn't gone out and fought for the ball like they did tonight. They did a really good job. We know we've got to get better, and this is a good starting point."
Hard-luck quarterback Matt Boyer threw one interception in the end zone and saw another perfectly thrown pass dropped on the goal line.
With 1:53 left in regulation, he was sacked on 4th-and-13 at the Pilots' 25.
East Prairie's defense managed to get the ball back with 32.8 ticks left, but a Hail Mary by Boyer was intercepted by Smith, ending all hopes for the Eagles.
East Prairie lost senior linebacker Chase Brewer to a high ankle sprain in the second quarter. His status was unknown at press time.
East Prairie will play at Dexter on Friday.