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Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

Mistakes doom Bulldogs

Sunday, September 7, 2003

(Photo)
Jackson's Jason Meystdt (30) and Tyler McNeely (99) block a Jacob Priday punt.
SIKESTON - If Friday night's season opener against Jackson is any indication, the Sikeston Bulldogs' defense appears to be just as stout as ever.

Unfortunately the same can't be said for the Bulldog offense, which sputtered for most of the night in a 12-7 loss to the Indians at SPS Stadium.

Sikeston managed just 109 yards of offense on the night, including negative-four yards in the first half.

But it was three back-breaking turnovers that proved to be the difference, one of which was returned for what ended up being the deciding touchdown in the third quarter.

The other two turnovers were in the red zone.

"I knew it was going to have to be a defensive battle for us to have a chance," said Jackson head coach Carl Gross. "The defense is the strength of our team. It was a defensive war."

The Bulldog defense stifled the Indians offense for most of the night as well.

Jackson's only offensive score came on a Jason Meystedt run on 4th-and-1 with 22 seconds left in the first quarter. The nine-play drive started at the Bulldog 37 after a short punt that was partially blocked.

The Bulldogs did block the extra point but the damage was done.

"The first thing you want to avoid is you don't want to beat yourself," said Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery. "We had a lot of first game jitters out there. We had a lot of new guys out there. Everybody keeps saying we've got all these people back. We did have a few back, but a lot of guys like Stephen Miller are at new positions."

Miller, a tight end last year, was starting his first game at quarterback. He was hurried by the Jackson defense on most of his 10 attempts, two of which were intercepted.

He completed five passes for 26 yards.

The Bulldog offense just couldn't get on track as they went three-and-out on their first five possessions.

"We might have been a little bit conservative in the first half -- especially with the field position and with Stephen being new back there," said Vickery. "I just didn't feel comfortable about putting him into a position where he had to make a bunch of plays."

Sikeston's Travis Hudson returned the second half kickoff and appeared to break free for a sure touchdown, but a Bulldog blocker collided with him, allowing the Indians to stop him after a 54-yard return to the 36.

Sikeston moved the ball as deep as the 7-yard line but a fumbled reverse attempt that the Indians recovered thwarted the drive.

Later in the quarter, Jackson went ahead 12-0 when Aaron Fortner returned an interception 55 yards untouched down the sideline for a touchdown with 7:10 left in the third quarter.

"We had trouble handling their ends -- (Miller) was rolling left and we were trying to get away from those ends," said Vickery of the interception. "But those types of things happen. We still had chances to come back."

Sikeston's offense finally came alive with 3:29 left in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs steadily marched 77 yards on a whopping 20 plays, eventually scoring on 4th-and-goal from the 3-yard line on a Miller naked bootleg.

Ryan Dicus' extra point made it 12-7.

But the problem was the Bulldogs used 9:37 of clock during the drive.

The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, setting up the Indians at their own 40. The Bulldogs quickly forced the Indians to punt, but the snap was low and the punter had to dive on the ball.

Sikeston took over at the Jackson 31-yard line with 3:57 left in the game, but the drama quickly ended as the Indians' Chase Walker intercepted Miller's pass at the 3-yard line on the Bulldogs' first play.

"We might've got two antsy right off the bat," said Vickery of the decision to go for the end zone. "We were moving the ball on the ground."

The Indians were able to run out the remaining 3:50 left on the clock to seal the victory.

"I can't give my defense enough credit," said Gross. "We put the defense on the field in some horrible field position both offensively and with special teams. They bent a little bit but they never did just break."

Sikeston's defense was just as strong, limiting the Indians to 126 yards of offense on the night -- 29 of which came in the second half.

They also forced three turnovers, including two interceptions by Scotty Keenan.

"The Priday kid is for real," said Gross. "That No. 70 (Joe Johnson), the two-technique, he's for real. That little 62 (Malcolm Williams), the defensive end, he made plays all night. They're a very good defensive football team. It was a tough bunch for our young offensive line to open up with I'll tell you."

Jackson had its own defensive stars, including defensive end Tyler McNeely, who blocked and punt and had two quarterback sacks.

"Tyler McNeely, he's a monster," said Gross.

Sikeston was led in rushing by Apollo Patterson with 31 yards on 10 carries. Nathan Eaves followed up with 24 yards on nine carries.

Brandon Williams led the Bulldog receivers with 20 yards on two catches.

Jackson was led by Aaron Randolph with 49 yards rushing on 10 carries. Meystedt, who burned the Bulldogs for over 100 yards rushing last year, was held to one yard on 12 carries.

Indian quarterback Tyler Profilet was 6-of-11 passing for 68 yards.

"After we got down 12-0, we kind of had our backs against the wall, but we didn't quit," said Vickery. "We kept fighting hard and I thought we hit them extremely hard. I thought it was a physical game. Defensively we played extremely well all night long. The effort was there. We'll clean up the mistakes. I really feel like before it's over we're going to be a pretty good team."

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