Watching Cape Central return the opening kickoff for a touchdown seemed to light a spark in the NMCC defense. The Eagles' defense responded to the return by scoring 18 points off of turnovers and forced another fumble that led to another six points.
The Eagle offense was held scoreless in the first quarter, but scored 12 points by the half, as sophomore Lennies McFerren rushed for a touchdown, and senior D'Adrian Farr recovered a fumble and ran it back 30 yards for the score.
Going into the half, head coach Arlen Pixley said that he and his coaches weren't satisfied with the intensity of their squad.
"I told them at half that Cape (Central) could have played with the same intensity they started with, and beat us tonight," Pixley said. "They could have stepped on our jugular and it would've been over.
At half time, NMCC led Cape Central 12-10. That was as close as it would get, as New Madrid tacked on 22 points in the third quarter.
With 11:00 on the clock in the third quarter, senior Sedrick Hemphill intercepted a pass and ran it back 74 yards for the score, with senior Markell Long adding the two-point conversion.
Just minutes later, with 8:37 on the clock, senior quarterback Leslie Williams connected with fellow senior Justin Beasley for a 39-yard touchdown pass. The Eagles' final score in the third quarter came off of the 54-yard fumble return from Long with 7:33 left in the quarter, followed by a two-point conversion run by Williams.
Cape Central's only answer to the scoring frenzy came from quarterback Chase Johnson's 72-yard touchdown run.
Johnson finished up 7-for-15 on the night, passing for 18 yards, with an interception, and rushed for 86 yards, with a touchdown and a fumble.
The Eagles' scoring bandwagon was just beginning, as nearly all of their team was involved in the scoring in some fashion.
Just getting into the fourth quarter, with 11:52 on the clock, senior Dylan Harris broke through the wreckage to score on a six-yard touchdown run, followed by a successful two-point conversion from Williams.
Just a couple of minutes later at 9:43, Beasley caught his second touchdown pass of the night for eight yards, and McFerren tacked on the extra point through the uprights.
Freshman G'Darius Stevenson then stole the show, with his first plays of offense on the night, scoring with 7:47 left, on a 43-yard touchdown run, followed by a 58-yard touchdown run with just 1:00 left in the game.
"He's a great athlete," Pixley said. "And it's great that he's just a freshman."
Even through the outburst of the offensive play against Cape Central, Pixley seemed to be more impressed with how his defense came out and captured the intensity of the game.
"In the second half, we came out like it was a boxing match," Pixley said. "I told them, if we take the first punch, we'll be okay - and we were."
"We were super physical on defense. Our coverage played great and they just raised their play to another level tonight."
As stated before, the defense scored 18 points, but giving credit where it is due, the experienced NMCC squad stepped up to the challenge against the Tigers, with numerous Eagles scoring multiple tackles.
Seniors D'Adrian Farr, LT Sutton, Corey Rowe, Long and Hemphill each had multiple tackles in the melee. Junior D'Angelo Covington added a sack and helped force a fumble that eventually led to a touchdown for the Eagles.
On the offensive side of the ball, Williams was 4-for-7 with 63 yards passing and one touchdown.
McFerren carried the ball 19 times, for 120 yards and a touchdown while Harris had five carries for eight yards and a touchdown.
Beasley had one yard rushing and two receptions for 47 yards, both of which were touchdowns.Stevenson had three carries for 63 yards, one of which was a touchdown, and added one reception for 43 yards, which was also a touchdown.
All of Stevenson's 106 total yards came in the fourth quarter.
Other Eagles with yards from scrimmage include Hemphill with 13 total yards, sophomore Dontre Jenkins with 6 total yards and junior William Craft with 11 total yards.
Cape Central will host Blytheville, Ark., next week, and New Madrid will travel to Poplar Bluff, who is coming off of a 34-26 loss to Blytheville.
Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.