DEXTER - So far this season, the Sikeston Bulldog offense hasn't yet reached its full potential.
But the Bulldogs' defense and special teams have performed admirably well.
That remained true on Friday night when Sikeston stomped the Dexter Bearcats 38-6 at Charles Bland Stadium.
Sikeston (2-1) blocked two punts and a field goal, and kicked a field goal themselves to improve to 2-1 on the season.
Defensively, Sikeston kept the Bearcats (1-2) scoreless until the fourth quarter when the game was in hand.
"Defense has played extremely well in all three games," said Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery. "Our special teams are playing outstanding. I think that's been a huge plus for us. We're holding teams deep on kickoff returns and we're getting a hand on some punts."
Sikeston got it started by snuffing out the Bearcats' punt on their first drive. The snap bounced to the punter and Geoff Mouser was never able to get it off, fumbling the ball all the way to the Sikeston 5.
On the Bulldogs' first play, Heath Hunter scored on a 5-yard run. The extra point failed leaving the score at 6-0 with 9:51 left in the quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Dexter put together a seven-minute, 17-play drive, kept alive by a roughing the punter penalty by Sikeston. The Bearcats came away with no points as Sikeston blocked the 33-yard field goal attempt.
Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley summed up the drive with one word.
"Penalties," he said. "We drive all the way down the football field and you get back-breaking penalties that back you up. And then we have to try a field goal and then we get that blocked. That was a big killer for us in this football game -- that was a great drive for us, and then we get all the way down there in the red zone and get backed up."
Neither team got much offense going the rest of the half until the Bulldogs converted a huge third-down play.
On third-and-long with a little under 3:00 remaining, Drew Lawrence found Lavar Morgan on a screen pass for 38 yards. Two plays later, Morgan sprinted into the end zone for a 39-yard TD run with 1:40 left.
The two-point conversion pass to Josh Monroe was successful to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.
"We blitzed every one of our backers and they caught us with the perfect play," said Pixley. "We took a chance and they caught us and that's why they got the first down and eventually went down and scored. That was the best play they could've run in that situation."
The second half started much the same way the first half did. Sikeston blocked the Dexter punt, recovered by Michael Colon on the 1-yard line.
"We knew they liked to try to block punts and they're good at it," said Pixley. "We had a couple of bad snaps and we gave them 14 points off the blocks basically. Good teams are going to capitalize on that."
Lawrence took the quarterback sneak from there for the touchdown. Andrew Lambert's extra point made it 21-0 with 8:08 left in the third quarter.
After forcing another Bearcat punt, Nathan Eaves returned it to Dexter territory to set up Lawrence's 38-yard TD pass to Lambert with 4:58 left in the quarter. Lambert's PAT was good to make the score 28-0.
Dexter finally got on the scoreboard when the put together a nine-play, 63-yard drive capped by Matt Burnett's 5-yard plunge with 8:57 left in the game. The two-point conversion run failed, keeping the score at 28-6.
Sikeston responded with a nine-play drive covering four minutes. Lambert capped the drive with a 41-yard field goal to make it 31-6 with 4:21 left.
It's Lambert's third 40-plus yard field goal in his career.
The Bulldogs completed their scoring when Nathan Eaves sacked quarterback Preston Clark, causing a fumble. Eaves picked it up and raced 48 yards for the touchdown for the Bulldogs' final score, making it 38-6 with 3:01 left.
Sikeston contained the Dexter passing attack for the entire night. Clark was 6-of-17 passing for 54 yards. He was pressured all night by the Sikeston defensive line and was sacked three times.
Dexter tailback Matt Burnett was a one-man show on offense, rushing for a game-high 143 yards on 31 carries.
Dexter had 204 yards of offense on 63 total plays.
"Dexter's got a good football team and we knew that coming in," said Vickery. "Burnett's a good back and they've got good people up front. I thought we did real well defensively. We put some pressure on the quarterback and I thought our secondary coverage was excellent."
Sikeston was led in rushing for the second week in a row by Morgan, carrying nine times for 62 yards. He also had a nice 50-yard run called back by a penalty that was away from the play.
Lawrence is showing steady improvement at quarterback, throwing for a season-high 90 yards on 5-of-6 passing.
The Bulldogs wound up with just 189 yards. But much of that can be attributed to playing a short field due to the special teams.
"I thought in the second half we pretty well moved the ball when we needed to," said Vickery. "We picked up the stunts -- in the first half they were just guessing and when you do that you end up getting burned some. But in the second half I thought we were able to pick it up."