FARMINGTON - Through the first four games of the season, the Sikeston Bulldogs have been on the wrong end of games that go down to the wire.
In Week 1 and in Week 3, the Bulldogs had victories snatched away in the final minutes by Jackson and Dexter respectively.
It was a trend that Sikeston wanted to reverse on Friday night at Farmington.
After several nail-biting moments, the Bulldogs were able to spoil the Knights' homecoming with a thrilling 33-27 victory in triple overtime.
It's Sikeston's longest game since defeating Blytheville 24-21 in three overtimes in 1984.
The game featured more twists, turns and momentum shifts than some teams will face in a season, but in the end it was fullback Jacob Priday providing the winning touchdown on a 2-yard plunge.
The Bulldogs (3-2) had already stopped Farmington (1-4) on their possession when they caused a fumble.
Priday's touchdown sent off a wild celebration among the Bulldog players as they stormed the field.
After losing four straight to the Knights, the Bulldogs have now won the last two years.
"We got down a couple times and fought back and you've got to give them all the credit for doing that," said Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery of his team. "We've lost some games at the end this year. This time we were able to come out on top. I like to think we should've won it earlier, but the main thing is we won it."
Priday, an all-state linebacker, wasn't just dominant on the defensive side. He had the best game of his career on the offensive side as well.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior rushed for a career-high 114 yards on 15 carries to lead all players.
In addition to several bone-crushing tackles, he also returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Priday was just one of the highlights for a rejuvenated offense for the Bulldogs, who racked up season-highs in total offense (398) and rushing yards (267).
Quarterback Stephen Miller continues to show improvement as he threw for 131 yards, completing 9-of-23 passes with a touchdown. On top of it, he rushed for 88 yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns.
Tailback Apollo Patterson had 50 yards rushing on 18 carries. He also added a huge 17-yard pass reception on 3rd-and-10 in the second overtime.
"We got our ground game going a little more tonight," said Vickery. "I thought we were able to mix it up with Jake running it and Apollo running it. We tossed in a reverse and Stephen had a good night running the ball. I think we're becoming a little more diversified."
Early on it appeared Sikeston could run away with the game.
On their second possession of the game, the Bulldogs marched 72 yards on 11 plays capped by a 21-yard touchdown pass to Scotty Keenan with 11:31 left in the second quarter.
Ryan Dicus provided the first of his three extra points to make it 7-0.
On Farmington's first play on the ensuing possession, Brandon Boggs fumbled. After a scramble, somehow the ball popped out of the pile.
Priday scooped it up and went untouched to the end zone for the 20-yard fumble return. Dicus' extra point made it 14-0 with 11:11 left in the half.
Later in the second quarter, Sikeston punted to the Knights, but Chris Bone muffed the punt. The Bulldogs recovered inside the Farmington 5-yard line and appeared to be in a good shape to score again with 1:16 left in the half.
But a flag was thrown on Sikeston's Nathan Eaves for interfering with Bone on the catch even though there was no contact made.
After the game Vickery was still confused on the call.
"He didn't call for a fair catch," he said. "Nate broke down a couple yards away and they felt like he interfered with the guy catching it. Sometimes that happens. But you can't worry about it. We were able to come back from it."
But it was enough to shift the momentum in favor of Farmington. Instead of the Bulldogs going up 21-0 at the half, the Knights were still in the game.
Bone took the second half kickoff and raced down the left sideline for an 85-yard return to cut the lead to 14-7.
"The kickoff return should've never happened," said Vickery. "We knew they were going to set up a side return to their bench but we just didn't make the play."
Neither team got much offense going for most of the second half. Sikeston had a chance to increase the lead but a Dicus 32-yard field goal was wide left with 4:30 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs appeared poised to run the clock out when they took over possession at their own 43.
Sikeston successfully moved the ball up the field, forcing Farmington to burn two timeouts with less than two minutes remaining.
The drive stalled at the Knight 35-yard line. On 4th-and-1, the Bulldogs elected to pin Farmington deep rather than try for the first down.
For a second, the plan looked like it had worked to perfection. Priday's punt was downed by the Bulldog coverage unit at the Knight 1-yard line, but the official ruled that it had crossed the plane, forcing a touchback.
"Jake kicked the ball down to the 1-yard line and we thought we had them pinned," said Vickery. "Going back on it, we were about a yard short on that fourth down. If I knew they'd get it back and move down the field then I would've went for it. We felt like the smart thing to do was punt it and keep it deep."
Farmington took over possession at the 20-yard line with one timeout and 1:42 left in the game.
The Knights put together a 13-play drive, which included two fourth down conversions and an apparent interception by Felante Larry, but it was ruled that Farmington had possession when the two players hit the ground.
Farmington tied the game when quarterback Stuart Sago found John Roark for a diving 2-yard TD reception with five seconds left in the game.
Roark's extra point tied it at 14-14.
But even still, Sikeston had a chance to win in regulation. Acie Dixon returned the Knight's squib kick to the Bulldog 43-yard line.
With two seconds left, and out of range for a Hail Mary, Sikeston ran a fullback dive to Priday, who rumbled 20 yards before being tackled.
But a 5-yard face-masking penalty gave the Bulldogs one free play with no time left from the 31-yard line.
Miller found Keenan on a deep out pattern, and for a moment, it appeared there might be a miracle. But the Knights converged quickly on Keenan, tackling him at the 1-yard line.
In the first overtime, Farmington struck when Ricky Johnson scored on a 5-yard run. Roark's extra point, however, was wide, leaving the door open for a Sikeston victory.
The Bulldogs needed eight plays to get in from the 25-yard line, including a 4th-down conversion by mere inches. Miller took the quarterback sneak in from the 1-yard line to tie the score at 20-20.
Needing an extra point to win, Dicus shanked it wide left, to send the game into a second overtime.
Sikeston took over the ball first in the second OT, and used six plays to score. Miller punched it in from three yards out. Dicus kicked the PAT, and the Bulldogs led 27-20.
Farmington answered with a four-play drive capped by Sago's 1-yard sneak. Despite an illegal procedure penalty, Roark tied the score with the extra point to send it into a third overtime.
The Knights had the ball first in the third OT. After three plays, Sikeston got the break they needed when Sago fumbled the snap, which the Bulldogs recovered.
Sikeston then went the necessary 25 yards on six plays, all on the ground, and won the game on Priday's plunge up the middle.
"It didn't come down to a fumbled snap," said Farmington head coach John Bacon. "There's about 150 plays every game and any one of them can be the difference. It wasn't the snap that hurt us, it's what we did up to that point."
Farmington was led in rushing by Boggs' 102 yards on 20 carries.
Sago completed 17-of-36 passes for 147 yards with one interception and a touchdown.
The Bulldogs had limited Sago to just 53 yards on 8-of-20 passing until the Knights' final drive of regulation, but the junior came alive down the stretch, coming up with several critical throws on fourth downs.
"We said going in that their quarterback was a good player and he's hard to hold," said Vickery. "They do a good job of protecting him. That kid put the ball on the money. We were trying to put some heat on him and we were having trouble getting there."
Roark led the Knights with 52 yards receiving on eight catches. Bone had three catches for 49 yards.
Keenan led all receivers on the night with 107 yards receiving on seven catches.
"They're good," said Bacon. "We were scrapping all night. But Sikeston's got a lot of weapons and they can hurt you in a lot of different ways. They did that tonight. It was a very exciting high school football."
Sikeston's defense allowed a season-high 294 yards of offense to the Knights.
It wasn't indicative of most of the game as Farmington was held to 114 yards of offense until the 1:42 mark of the fourth quarter.
"I thought for the most part our defense played really well the whole game," said Vickery. "In the overtime it's a whole different set of circumstances. You're in a four-down territory and everything changes a little bit. I don't blame our defense for that. They just made some good plays."
Sikeston will play at New Madrid County Central on Friday at 7:30 p.m.