POPLAR BLUFF -- The Mules didn't waste any time breaking in a new scoreboard Friday night at Morrow Stadium.
Ben Knuckles returned the opening kickoff 90 yards as Poplar Bluff handed New Madrid County Central its first loss of the season 32-12.
"I wasn't worried about the opening kickoff," NMCC coach Arlen Pixley said. "We didn't do a very good job of getting off the football and they did."
The Eagles (2-1) were held to 45 total yards in the first half and gained half of their 141 yards of total offense on just three plays.
Lennies McFerren ran for 65 yards on 19 carries, scoring with 3:21 left in the fourth quarter to lead the Eagles.
"Our defense was on the field all night long," Pixley said.
Poplar Bluff (1-2) got 87 rushing yards from sophomore Zach Ferguson, who took over for an injured Jarred Osborn in the first quarter. Aaron Ellis ran for 31 yards as the Mules ran for over 200 yards for the second time this season.
Junior quarterback Todd Bullington ran for 71 yards and threw for 74 by completing 4-of-7 attempts. He threw his first career varsity touchdown pass to finish Poplar Bluff's first drive, a 26-yard strike to
Kerey Smith that put the Mules ahead 12-0.
Bryan Waters cut Central's deficit in half with 2:25 to go in the opening quarter on his 24-yard run.
The Mules scored twice in the second quarter, catching a break when Bullington fumbled after a 34-yard run and senior tight end Tim Stonecipher recovered the ball in the end zone.
Ferguson made it 25-6 with 3:04 left in the half on his 1-yard run. The sophomore later set up an 11-yard touchdown run by pinning the Eagles inside their own 6-yard line with a punt. Poplar Bluff's defense forced a punt three plays later, one of six drives in which
Central did not pick up a first down, to set up the 34-yard scoring drive for the Mules.
Senior quarterback Leslie Williams had two passes picked off by Poplar Bluff's Greg Coble and finished 1-for-7, competing a shovel pass for no gain.
"Their defense did a pretty good job," Pixley said.