The Dexter Bearcats crossed the goalline five times in Friday night's Homecoming game against the Malden Greenwave (0-4), but only two of those touchdowns counted as the 'Cats pulled out a 16-6 victory to move to 3-1 on the year.
"We had some nice looking passes dropped and called back for penalties," Dexter coach Aaron Pixley said. "We had three touchdowns called back that first half. One on the fumble recovery - we had a block on the back on that - and two holding penalties on pass plays. My goodness, you can't do that and win high school football games. That's just mental mistakes. It seems like we have had mental mistakes all year long."
However, a pair of plays by junior Derek Roberts counted. And they were the two biggest plays of the night.
Five minutes into the second half, Dexter forced a Greenwave punt that Roberts nearly took to the house. Fielding the ball at the Malden 43, Roberts raced to his left and followed his blockers all the way to the 20-yard line.
"We had a right-return called, and they kicked the ball over to the left," Roberts said of the return. "Coach always tells me to find the wall no matter what. Once I got behind the wall, I got some good blocking and we got good field position and we scored a touchdown."
It took a terrific diving catch by Marc Thrower in the right flat to extend the drive as Dexter faced fourth down at the Malden 13.
"He has excellent hands," Pixley said of Thrower. "Whenever a ball is near him he's going to grab it. On that fourth-and-5, he came up real big for us."
Three plays later, quarterback Kyle Espey plunged into the endzone from one yard out to give Dexter a 9-6 lead after Tyler Grovenor's point after.
On the ensuing drive, Roberts came up big again as he intercepted a Malden pass in the middle of the field, sprinted down the right sideline and hurdled a Greenwave defender on his way to a 78-yard return that boosted the lead to 16-6.
"They had been going to that guy all night," Roberts said. "We already had two D-backs on him, so I thought that the ball might get tipped up. I was just waiting on it and the ball got in my hands. I saw the open field to the right, so I just took off to the open field. I had a lot of my defensive linemen down there blocking. They're the ones that got the touchdown for me by blocking downfield."
Malden would not go away as Terrell Butler nearly got the Greenwave right back in the ballgame. With over six minutes to play, Butler took a toss and broke through and past the Bearcat defense. Seemingly on his way to a touchdown, Butler was chased down 64 yards later with a touchdown-saving tackle by Dexter's Cale Williams at the Bearcat 20.
Malden was unable to punch the ball in, and the 'Cats took over with the intention of running out the clock.
Senior Garrett Williams, who recorded a career-high 156 yards on 28 carries, broke outside for 35 yards on the first play of the drive.
"He ran the ball well," Pixley said of Garrett Williams. "He got outside on them a few times, and then up the middle he popped up there real well. That's what we are looking for - to get that going."
Aaron Reese followed with a 10-yard dive up the middle to move the chains again. Reese finished with 51 yards on six carries, while the 'Cats covered 255 yards on 49 rushes. Alex Becker added 35 yards on eight carries for Dexter as the team managed 5.2 yards per carry - over twice their season average (2.18 ypc) going into Friday's contest.
"This was a hard one," Malden coach Kevin Collier said. "This is a very emotional situation for the kids to have fought so hard and to come up short. We had excellent emotion, even in the second half. We have 10 guys that play about every down and they never let up. They fight hard and I can't ever fault the effort of these kids at Malden."
Hayti 28, Caruthersville 21
CARUTHERSVILLE -- The Caruthersville Tigers gave Hayti a scare, but the top-ranked Class 1 team in the state held on for a 28-21 victory on Friday night.
The Tigers (3-1) led 14-7 early in the third quarter, but Hayti ripped off 21 unanswered points to take the lead.
Caruthersville closed the gap to 28-21 on a 35-yard reception by Kyle Hubbard with 7:20 remaining.
The Tigers attempted a desperation pass from the Indian 35-yard line in the waning moments, but Hayti intercepted it as time expired.
University of Missouri recruit William Moore showed why he is so highly touted as he had two touchdown receptions covering 62 and 75 yards. He also returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown.
Caruthersville's Jimmy Jackson, the area's leading rusher, had 130 yards on 27 carries with one touchdown. He also had three receptions for 61 yards.
Tiger quarterback Rogers VanAusdall was 10-of-26 passing for 297 yards. He had one touchdown and two interceptions.
Dominique Branch had two catches for 87 yards with a touchdown.
Caruthersville shredded the Hayti defense for 462 yards.
Hayti (3-0) was led in rushing by Jordan Payne's 64 yards on nine carries. He also returned a kick 90 yards for a touchdown.
All-state running back Torey Nelson saw his first action of the year for the Indians, rushing for 51 yards on 14 carries.
Hayti quarterback Josh White threw for 145 yards, completing 3-of-6 passes.
SCOTT CITY --
Scott City's football team used a second half surge to cut Valle Catholic's lead to 16-14 in the fourth quarter Friday night at Scott City, but the Rams came up short for their third straight loss, a 23-14 setback.
The Rams (1-3) trailed 9-0 at halftime before the offense began to click in the second half. After cutting the lead to 16-14, Scott City kicked an onside kick but touched the ball just before it went the required 10 yards, giving Valle good field position.
Valle scored a couple of plays later to finish off the Rams.
"We just clicked a little too late," Rams coach Jackie Johnson said.
Scott City will visit rival Chaffee on Friday.
Cape Central 25, North Co. 18
(Thursday night game)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Sometimes all it takes is a lucky bounce to swing the momentum of a game.
For the Central Tigers football team Thursday, that lucky bounce came on a 50-yard field-goal attempt as time expired in the first half at Houck Stadium.
With North County up 12-6, Central kicker Colin Schermann's field-goal attempt dropped on the goal post and bounced over. Central used those three points to take control of the game and, with 25 unanswered points, the Tigers defeated North County 25-18 in a battle of state-ranked Class 4 teams. No. 8 Central and No. 6 North County are 3-1.
Down three with the ball out of halftime, Central's offense started to show signs of life. On a busted play, Craft found receiver Mark Dunaway going across the middle, and Dunaway broke loose for a 61-yard reception.
Dunaway's reception led to Brandon Twigg's 1-yard touchdown run, his second of the game. After Schermann missed the extra point, Central had its first lead of the game at 15-12.
Once the Tigers got in front, the defense showed its bite. After a first half that saw North County quarterback Adam Howard throw touchdown passes of 33 and 53 yards with plenty of time to pass, Central picked up the pressure in the second half.
Central's blitz netted four sacks in the second half, including a big sack on fourth down midway through the third quarter that forced Howard to fumble the ball. Off the turnover, Craft and Dunaway hooked up again for a 46-yard touchdown play. Schermann's extra point extended the Tigers' lead to 22-12.
Central got the ball back after a big sack by Darren Neels and threatened to push the lead to three scores. But after a big run by Twiggs, the Tigers were flagged for a false start on a fourth down on the 1-yard line. Schermann kicked a 23-yard field goal to give the Tigers their final score and make it 25-12.
North County's vaunted offense was denied once again on the next possession. Twiggs and Patrick Slattery had back-to-back sacks to give the Tigers the ball back with a little less than six minutes left in the game.
The Tigers looked like they were going to put the Raiders away until a fumbled handoff gave North County the ball on Central's 13. The Raiders converted on a key fourth down and Dan Harris took the ball in from a yard out to cut the score to 25-18.
North County's defense allowed Craft and Tyrone Reece to gain key first downs but were able to force the Tigers to punt with 1:15 remaining. Central punter Clay Schermann was knocked down on the punt, though, and North County's ninth penalty of the game was the game-clincher for Central.
Craft finished the game with 197 yards passing. Twiggs led the Tigers in rushing with 95 yards on 22 carries. Howard finished with 137 yards passing, but only had 36 yards after halftime.