NEW MADRID -- Undefeated Caruthersville looked as good as advertised in a workmanlike 46-6 win over undermanned New Madrid on Friday.
"We're just trying to keep everything humming going into districts," said Caruthersville coach David Gilmore.
The 5-0 Tigers' quick-strike, high-scoring offense (51.6 points per game), which Gilmore calls "a fastbreak on grass," probably draws the most notice, but the defense certainly deserves equal "props."
Caruthersville held NMCC (1-4) to a miniscule 79 yards of total offense. The Eagles managed 19 yards rushing and 60 passing -- 44 of those on a tipped-pass touchdown. Fourteen of New Madrid's 44-play total from scrimmage went for negative yardage.
The 44-yard touchdown pass from NMCC quarterback Sherman Newsome to Eugene Cooper was only the second score given up by the Tiger defense all season and halted a three-game shutout string.
The Tiger offense got things rolling on the first play of its second possession of the ballgame when Caruthersville's slotback Paul Sanders opened the scoring with an 85-yard jaunt off an inside reverse. New Madrid appeared to have the play sniffed out, but several missed tackles allowed Sanders to weave through the defense for the big play.
"It was kind of the same old song and dance it's been all year," said NMCC coach Arlen Pixley. "We missed some tackles and made some mistakes there in the first half, but we're going to get better. We're repping, repping and re-repping our young kids."
The Tigers took just four plays to go 36 yards to paydirt, with 4:34 left in the first period, on quarterback Keith Creekmore's 22-yard toss to flanker Kyle Hubbard. It was Creekmore's first of four touchdown passes on the evening and, also, the first of two to Hubbard.
Creekmore threw his second touchdown pass, a six-yarder to Plessie Ellitt, at the one-minute mark of the first quarter to extend the lead to 20-0.
Meanwhile, one six-play and two four-and-out series netted NMCC minus-15 yards.
A penalty-plagued second quarter kept the Tigers at bay, for the most part. A 71-yard touchdown run by Adam Cecil, the Tigers' leading rusher with 129 yards on 11 carries, was called back on a holding penalty and three offensive pass interference calls thwarted Tiger drives.
"Even though we scored 46 points, we sputtered too much on offense," said Gilmore. "I've never had three offensive pass interference penalties in the same game. That was a new lesson for me. At least we got to talk to the officials and see what we were doing wrong and correct it at halftime and we didn't have any more in the second half."
With just 30 seconds remaining in the half, Creekmore hit Hubbard again for a 33-yard score. Sanders' two-point conversion run pushed the Tigers ahead 28-0 at the break.
New Madrid's lone score, the Newsome-to-Cooper pass play, came at the 8:01 mark of the third period. On the play, the ball tipped off defensive back Sanders' fingertips and Cooper made a nice adjustment to grab the deflection, before scrambling into the end zone to cut the margin to 28-6.
If any momentum was to be gained from the scoring play, it was quickly erased on the ensuing kickoff.
Ellitt settled under the kickoff at his own 20 and promptly raced 80 yards up the middle of the field for a 34-6 Caruthersville lead.
Later in the third period, Cecil had a 21-yard run called back. On the very next play, he hauled in a swing pass and rambled into the corner of the end zone for a 40-6 lead.
Cecil capped the scoring with an untouched 48-yard scamper with 28 seconds left in the third period for the 46-6 final. With a running clock, reserves played most of a scoreless fourth quarter. Pixley, with particular praise for the players in the trenches for Caruthersville, said, "They're a very solid program. They're so methodical and execute so well up front. We can talk about their skill kids all we want, but they don't do what they do if those guys aren't doing what they do. They're outstanding up front."
He added, "We're proud of our kids. The kids we had played all four quarters, probably a little better than most people expected."