CARUTHERSVILLE - How can any team stop David Gilmore's Caruthersville Tigers the way they are executing at this point in the season?
That is the question that Ashley Swims and the Portageville Bulldogs had to answer Friday night during the opening round of district play at Hopke Field.
The Bulldogs couldn't find the solution and fell to the Tigers 62-0, leaving them in a must-win situation for the next two district games.
The Tigers (8-0) racked up 469 total yards of offense and held the Bulldogs to 144 total yards.
Quarterback Keith Creekmore had all the time he wanted back in the pocket and turned in a performance of 202 yards passing on 10-of-19 in the contest.
The Tigers threw in a mixture in their offensive scheme by passing for long yardage and by throwing short screen-passes that resulted in huge gains as their offensive line creating excellent running room.
The Tigers rushed for 245 yards on 23 carries led by Paul Sanders with 79 yards. The Bulldogs secondary struggled throughout the contest and couldn't contain the Tigers from turning the corners. Sanders turned the corners at will at scored two rushing touchdowns. Kyle Hubbard led the Tigers return team attack by returning the Bulldogs punts for positive-yardage during the game. Hubbard had one rushing touchdown and one touchdown on a punt return.
All of the Tigers scoring occurred in the opening half of play as Portageville allowed Caruthersville to score on offense and defense. Sanders on the opening drive of the game got the Tigers on the board with a pair of electrifying runs to the corner. Sanders broke loose for a 36-yard run and concluded the drive with a three-yard TD scamper. Mike Lack done something that the Tigers have been looking for, adding the PAT. The junior was successful on five-of-seven attempts in the game.
On the first possession for the Bulldogs, C.J. Medley was intercepted by Hubbard and the senior had a huge return called back for an illegal block in the back by James Lane.
Caruthersville got Plessie Ellitt involved in the game on the next drive. Ellitt ended the night with five catches for 52 yards. Adam Cecil later scored on a one-yard run through the middle.
The Tigers scored two more times in the opening quarter with Evan Gibson's 34-yard run and Creekmore's 22-yard pass over the middle to Gibson.
On fourth-and-11, Hubbard picked off Medley again and brought the ball back to the Portageville 14. On the very next play, Hubbard received a great block from Ellitt and trotted in from 14-yards out. With 11:22 left in the second, the Tigers led 34-0.
On the ensuing punt by the Bulldogs, Hubbard showed off some excellent athleticism and broke through for a 58-yard TD return.
The Tigers held Antonio Scott at tack all night. In the second stanza, he was stripped and Josh Swanson returned the ball for a Tiger touchdown.
Sanders added a three yard run for a TD and Creekmore finished off the half with a 50-yard screen pass to Cecil that he took to the house.
Coach Gilmore was prouder of his team's effort tonight compared to last week.
"After last week, we came to practice this week with a change in attitude," Gilmore said. "Finishing up the regular seven games with Dexter, it kind of put us on a sour-note because we felt like we took a step backwards going into the districts. The kids came back to work this week with a new attitude and I think we went back to the basics, we got ourselves fired up and said hey, we are capable to scoring on offense every time we have the ball. We have to execute every chance we get and those games that we can win, we want to put them away early. Because this is the time of year where injuries play a big factor and you don't want to sit in there and do a lot of stupid stuff to hurt your team. We are heading in the right direction, I am proud of our kids the way we came out and fired on all cylinders. We got some big scores off of special teams tonight. Our defense stayed strong, we keyed on Antonio Scott, he is the heart and soul of that team."
The way Hubbard returned the ball for the Tigers, CHS just added another arsenal to their program. Lack also improved the extra-point game for the Tigers.
"We haven't had a lot of people kick to us," Gilmore said. "Because we have Kyle Hubbard and Paul Sanders back deep. It is kind of a smart thing to angle kick away and we have been trying to put a lot of heat of the kicking game to create some momentum in our favor. We hadn't blocked a kick yet. We are trying to get all of our pieces together. We found a new kicker tonight and we feel like he is going to do a good job for us down the stretch. At least knock them down where we don't have to go for two every single play."
Coach Gilmore was please that everyone got a chance to improve their game in the contest.
"I am just proud of our kids," Gilmore said. "We came out firing tonight. We had no idea that we would be able to be up 62-0 at halftime, but in districts, we are going to play ball. Every kid on our football team got in tonight. I just want to make that public knowledge. We have been waiting for this time of year. We have had a very competitive schedule through the first seven weeks."