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Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016

Bulldogs lose defensive battle

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Sikeston's Stephen Miller runs for a gain in Friday's game against Dexter.
DEXTER - In Week 1 of the season, turnovers hurt the Sikeston Bulldogs football team.

In Week 2, the Bulldogs didn't turn the ball over, but penalties proved costly.

On Friday night against Dexter, the Bulldogs were able to keep the penalties to a minimum, but five turnovers were too much to overcome against a fired up Bearcats squad.

It proved to be just enough for Dexter to pull out a 14-7 victory in the fourth quarter at Charles Bland Stadium.

It's the first time since 1986 and 1987 that Dexter has defeated Sikeston in consecutive seasons.

"It's pretty big to beat them," said Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley. "They're a larger school. Our kids take this game pretty serious. We knew we wanted to come out of here 2-and-1 and knew we were going to have to play very, very well to do it. It's one of the best games I've been involved with."

Sure the Bulldogs (1-2) turned the ball over five times. But the main problem was where they turned it over.

The Bearcats (2-1) marched just 39 yards and 19 yards for their only two touchdown drives, both following Bulldog fumbles.

"Obviously you can't turn the ball over like we did, especially in the field position that we turned it over," said Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery. "You're not going to beat anybody making those types of turnovers. That's something we've got to correct. It's my job to figure out how to do it."

Sikeston's defense turned in another superb effort, limiting the Bearcats to 160 yards of offense, forcing seven punts and intercepting two passes.

"No question, our defense has played well, just like we have the first three games," said Vickery. "They had a great effort."

But on the flip side, Sikeston's offense was simply ineffective for most of the game.

In addition to the turnovers, the Bulldogs managed just 203 yards of offense. They punted the ball four times and had three drives end on downs.

But even worse, it's the team's inability to put points on the board that has contributed to their two losses.

"We've really been inconsistent offensively," said Vickery. "We've got to be able to move the football. At this point we're going to sit back and take a look and see what we need to do. We are going to get it done."

Sikeston jumped on top in the early going with a three-play drive covering 56 yards.

A Stephen Miller pass that was tipped by a Dexter defender landed right in the hands of Scott Keenan for a 40-yard gain down to the 10-yard line.

That set up Apollo Patterson's 10-yard run. Ryan Dicus' extra point made it 7-0 with 6:09 left in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs never reached the red zone the rest of the night.

But they did have one final Hail Mary play just before the half, Miller threw a bomb to Keenan in the end zone. The ball was deflected at the last second, but Keenan wasn't able to haul it in.

That was the closest the Bulldogs would come to scoring.

"The defense came up with big plays and that's what we had to do," said Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley. "That's a good football team over there and we needed to make plays. They made some mistakes that hurt them and we were able to take advantage of a couple of them."

Sikeston turned the ball over on its opening drive of the second half, giving the Bearcats good field position at the Bulldog 39.

Dexter needed 10 plays to punch it in the end zone, including a 4th-down conversion. They eventually scored on a Garrett Williams 1-yard plunge with 6:33 left in the third quarter.

The extra point was blocked, leaving the Bulldogs with a 7-6 lead.

That's where things stood until midway through the fourth quarter.

Sikeston appeared to be in total control after forcing a Bearcat punt with 6:52 left in the game.

But Sikeston's Felante Larry muffed the punt, allowing Dexter to take over possession at the Bulldog 19-yard line.

The Bearcats needed just two plays to score as quarterback Kyle Espey found Marc Thrower with a 10-yard pass in the end zone to give Dexter a 12-7 lead.

Espey hooked up with Thrower again on the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 14-7 with 6:07 left in the game.

Sikeston was able to move the ball to the Dexter 42-yard line but the drive ended on downs with 2:47 left.

Dexter ran out the remaining time on the clock to seal the victory.

The Bulldogs out-gained Dexter 203 to 160.

The Bearcat rushing attack managed just 73 yards on 40 carries while Espey was just 8-of-23 passing for 87 yards.

"The passing game I felt like was going to be working real good and it didn't work very well," said Pixley. "We threw it enough, some play-action stuff and caught them off guard a little bit, and made big plays when we had to."

Dexter was led in rushing by Alex Becker's 37 yards on 14 carries. Williams gained 29 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Sikeston was led in rushing by fullback Jacob Priday with 41 yards on 10 carries. Patterson had 37 yards on 18 carries.

Miller completed five passes on 16 attempts for 94 yards. Keenan had four receptions for 85 yards.

Dexter will host Malden on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Sikeston will host Kennett next Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Sikeston has now lost two games by a total of 12 points.

"If you go back to the two games we've lost, both were winable games," said Vickery. "It's just a matter of us getting it turned around and figuring out what we need to do."