NMCC (1-7), the defending Class 3, District 1 champion, dropped its 2004 district opener 49-30 to Perryville on Friday.
Perryville (3-5), which moved from Class 4 to 3 this season, pounded the Eagles with senior tailback Matt Unterreiner providing the hammer.
Unterreiner slashed for 317 yards and three touchdowns from scrimmage, plus a 92-yard kickoff return for a score. The Pirates disdained the pass, going solely on the ground for a total offense of 401 rushing yards.
"We saw some things that we could do, offensively," said Perryville coach Rick Chastain. "When you've got a running back like Matt Unterreiner, my gameplan the last three or four games has been to find a way to run the ball."
NMCC coach Arlen Pixley acknowledged Unterreiner as a quality back, but felt his team's defense made it difficult to judge just how good he really was.
"There's no secret to it," he said. "Once again, at the point of attack, we're just not tackling. We're inept tacklers and it hasn't gotten any better. We've got kids hustling hard to the point of attack, but they just haven't done it (before). It all gets back to youth and inexperience. The nuts and bolts of the game is blocking and tackling. It's gut wrenching."
NMCC's offense, led by junior quarterback Jordan Kimball, held up its end of the bargain.
Kimball threw for 255 yards, hitting 11-of-18 attempts. Particularly hot in the second half, Kimball went 8-for-9 with two scoring tosses.
Senior wideout Eugene Cooper was on the receiving end of both, a 36 and an 84 yarder. Cooper finished with 185 yards on eight catches.
"They were playing a Cover 4, four guys deep," said Pixley, "and we just exploited it (the coverage) underneath. We were patient, took what the defense gave us and put some points on the board.
"That was refreshing, but 49 points," added Pixley, unable to erase the porous defensive effort.
With workhorse Unterreiner carrying on eight of 10 plays, Perryville, aided by four Eagle penalties, marched 61 yards on its opening drive with Unterreiner scoring from the 5. Placekicker Greg Wibbenmeyer, perfect on the evening, connected on his first of seven consecutive extra-point kicks to send the Pirates up 7-0.
NMCC came back with an 8-yard touchdown scamper by Jeffery McFarland to close the gap to 7-6 with 5:13 left in the first period. A 38-yard pass play from Kimball to Sherman Newsome, the key play of the drive.
With 1:13 left in the quarter, Perryville quarterback Cory Buerck sneaked in from the 1 for a 14-6 lead.
A 21-yard run by wide receiver Clinton Rice on an inside reverse pushed the score to 21-6, then a 4-yard run by Wibbenmeyer set the halftime scoreboard at 28-6.
A solid NMCC defensive stand on the first Pirate possession of the second half went for naught when the Eagles coughed up the football in their own end zone. Defensive lineman Matt Schamburg pounced on the loose ball for a 35-6 Perryville advantage at the 8:27 mark of the third quarter.
The remainder of the third quarter resembled a ping-pong match, back and forth, as both offenses dominated.
Kimball's 36-yard scoring strike to Cooper capped a 65-yard NMCC drive.
A successful two-point conversion, also a Kimball to Cooper pass, narrowed the margin to 35-14.
With Perryville's ground game -- namely, Unterreiner -- still churning, the Pirates tallied again. Unterreiner took it in from 19 yards out for a 42-14 lead.
Then NMCC came right back, about 50 seconds later, with an 84-yard Kimball to Cooper catch-and-run to close to 42-22.
"It always concerns me when somebody makes big plays on us," said Chastain, "but when you've got as many weapons as they have, you expect it on any play. They've got some tremendous athletes."
Perryville had a big play in its bag, also.
On the ensuing kickoff, Unterreiner found a crease up the middle of the field, then veered down the right sideline and won a footrace to the end zone to send the Pirates back up at 49-22 as the third quarter expired.
The Eagles closed out the scoring with 4:10 left in the final period on Kimball's 8-yard scramble, followed by Joshua Kirby's two-point conversion run. "I'm extremely proud of our offense tonight," said Pixley, "but we've been working on nothing but defense in practice. I can't figure it out, but my hat's off to freshmen (free safety) Leslie Williams, who had an interception, (linebacker) Dylan Harris and (linebacker) Dijuan Waters. These kids are taking their lumps, but they're getting better every week. They are the bright spots."
NMCC faces district favorite Dexter on Friday at Dexter, while Perryville hosts Kennett.