NEW MADRID -- Remond Willis rushed for 323 yards and scored four touchdowns, rallying New Madrid County Central past Farmington, 26-17 on Friday night.
The Eagles trailed 17-6 at halftime, but ended the game with 20 unanswered points to pull out the win.
"If we can ever put four good quarters together, I would hate to be the other team," said NMCC coach Steve Rogers. "Right now, we look like a second-half ballclub."
With the big night, Willis now has 644 yards on the season, averaging 7.5 yards per carry.
"He's a very good running back," said Farmington head coach John Bacon. "He's big, he's strong and he's fast. You've got to wrap him up. In the first half, we did. In the second half, we didn't."
Willis' dominant game overshadowed an impressive outing by Farmington quarterback Stuart Sago. He completed 14 passes on 37 attempts for 165 yards.
"Farmington has a good football team," said Rogers. "The quarterback threw the ball well. We did a little better job of getting pressure on him and adjusting to their routes in the second half. We were fortunate to get away with a win tonight."
NMCC failed to convert on fourth down in its first series of the game, giving Farmington the ball on the Eagle 25. The Knights took full advantage of the excellent field position as Sago hooked up with Derek Wiles for a nine-yard TD pass. Marcus Hoehn kicked the PAT to make it 7-0.
"(NMCC) was bringing a lot of people close to the line of scrimmage," said Bacon. "When a team does that, they're telling you that they're not going to let you run. We tried running it from time to time, but they're pretty good against it."
NMCC answered the score as Willis broke loose for a 53-yard run, setting himself up for a 2-yard TD plunge. The point-after failed, making it 7-6.
Farmington added to its lead later in the opening quarter as Hoehn nailed a 27-yard field goal to put the Knights up 10-6.
In the second quarter, Wiles took advantage of some excellent downfield blocking to score a 50-yard touchdown. Hoehn kicked the PAT to make it 17-6 at halftime.
Like last week, NMCC turned it on like a light switch at the break.
"Tonight, our conditioning paid off," said Rogers. "(Farmington) looked a little tired to me in the second half, and we just kept pounding it at them. Eventually, the dam broke."
NMCC opened the third quarter with a six-play scoring drive. Willis took it in from 18 yards out, then quarterback Derrell Newsome ran in the two-point conversion to shave the lead down to 17-14.
"I thought that was a turning point," said Rogers.
The Knights were forced to punt on the following drive, after a huge sack by Vaughn Shephard on third down.
In the fourth quarter, Shephard hauled in a 20-yard pass from Newsome, setting up a three-yard score by Willis to make it 20-17, giving the Eagles their first lead of the game with 11:55 left.
The Knights then coughed up the ball, and the Eagles took over on the Farmington 41. Willis broke off a 27-yard run, then scored from four yards out to increase the lead to 26-17.
"I don't think they're used to playing at that faster pace," said Rogers. "We like to play a lot like Caruthersville and other teams around here -- fastbreak on grass. We like to speed things up."
Wiles led Farmington on the ground with 87 yards, but was held to just seven yards in the second half. John Roark led a quartet of Knight receivers with five catches for 78 yards. Farmington (1-2) will host Perryville on Friday night while NMCC (2-1) opens its conference schedule with Charleston. "I expect a tough battle with Charleston," said Rogers.
"Coach Anderson and his staff do a good job, and he's got some good athletes. It should be a barnburner."