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NMCC rallies for win

Sunday, October 9, 2005

(Photo)
NMCC's Laterrance Newsom catches a critical pass in the fourth quarter.
NEW MADRID - The New Madrid County Central Eagles scored two touchdowns in less than two minutes late in the fourth quarter to come from behind to defeat the Sikeston Bulldogs 19-16 on homecoming night in New Madrid.

The Bulldogs had a chance to possibly win the game with under two minutes left, but quarterback Chase Ferrell lost the grip on the ball when attempting to pass and fumbled.

The Eagles recovered and were able to run out the remaining 1:54 on the clock to secure the win.

"We didn't close the game out and that's the difference between expecting to win and expecting to lose," said Sikeston coach Jerry Dement. "We've been struggling the last year or two. Mistakes seem to creep up at inopportune times. We just made mistakes late. You've got to secure the ball, we've got to keep the clock running, do little things like stay in bounds when you're supposed to."

Sikeston (0-6) held a 16-7 lead with less than six minutes left in the game, but the Bulldog defense, which had been solid in the first three quarters, fell apart in the waning moments.

NMCC (5-1) engineered back-to-back scoring drives of 69 and 74 yards and needed just three and five plays, respectively, to put the ball in the end zone.

Perhaps the biggest play of either drive, was a 29-yard completion to Laterrance Newsom on a 3rd-and-8 play from the Eagles' own 33. Sophomore quarterback Leslie Williams lofted the ball into traffic, but Newsom out-jumped the Bulldog defenders to pull down the reception.

The Eagles eventually moved the ball to the red zone where Tommy Rowe came in motion and took the handoff as he ran past the quarterback, scoring on a 14-yard run with 4:21 left in the game.

The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score at 16-13.

Rowe had three rushing touchdowns, all on the same motion play.

He scored his third touchdown with 2:44 left in the game from 14 yards out.

Rowe's first touchdown came in the second quarter on an 8-yard run.

He finished with 53 yards on seven carries.

"We finally got into a rhythm where we started playing football," said NMCC coach Arlen Pixley. "We've been distracted since Monday. It's homecoming week for us and that's what youth and inexperience will do, they tend not to focus. I'm not downgrading homecoming, but they scare every coach in America."

NMCC certainly appeared discombobulated for most of the night. They committed 16 penalties for 100 yards, most coming on false starts and encroachment infractions, several times bringing back long gains.

The Eagles also turned the ball over three times on the night.

"It's just lack of concentration and lack of focus," said Pixley. "It was ugly. We'll right the ship next week, that's for sure."

The Eagles, which were held to 239 yards midway through the fourth, churned out 184 yards on their final three drives to finish with 423 total yards.

NMCC senior Printice Willis had the biggest night on the ground, rushing for 182 yards on 17 carries. He had a 48-yard run on NMCC's final scoring drive to set up Rowe's third touchdown.

"The last eight minutes of the fourth quarter we had them in the bag and we let them out," said Dement. "We didn't maintain clock and we didn't tackle well. We get tired and get in old habits of tackling high and taking poor angles. Good teams find ways to win, not ways to lose. Right now we're not a very good football team. But we're playing harder and battling. We tackled real well until late in the game. We got tired and Willis stepped it up and we didn't tackle him very well."

The Bulldogs held NMCC's leading rusher, Antonio McIntosh, to just 53 yards on 15 carries. But Willis, Rowe and Williams made up the difference.

Williams, starting his fourth game at quarterback, overcame a sloppy first half in which he threw two interceptions, and rushed for 76 yards on nine carries and threw for 50 yards. Williams was 0-for-6 passing with two interceptions at one juncture, but he completed three of his final four passes.

More importantly, he made the plays when the Eagles needed them down the stretch.

"Somebody had to step up," said Pixley. "We've been asking somebody to step up for five weeks. We've got two backs sitting there with even yardage. One of them has to step up or step off. What happened tonight was they were jumping the outside and (Willis) just cut it up. They were overflowing it and we told them to look for the cutback."

Both teams played to a scoreless first quarter.

The Eagles finally got on the board with 5:45 left in the half after an eight-

play, 66-yard drive capped by Rowe's 8-yard run.

Sikeston responded on the ensuing drive, needing just three plays. Ferrell hit Robbie Howard in stride down the left sideline for a 50-yard touchdown with 1:11 left. Acie Dixon ran in the two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs an 8-7 halftime lead.

Sikeston then took its first possession of the second half and marched 85 yards in 13 plays, eventually scoring on Dixon's 5-yard run. Dixon then ran in the two-point conversion to make it 16-7 with 4:28 left in the third.

But the Bulldogs couldn't move the ball enough from that point to pull out the win.

Following NMCC's go-ahead touchdown with 2:44 left, Howard returned the ensuing kick 56 yards to the Eagle 34-yard line. Sikeston fumbled the handoff on the first play, but Dixon recovered. The Bulldogs weren't so lucky on the second fumble.

The Bulldog offense was held to 10 three-and-outs in the game. They were forced to punt eight times and turned the ball over twice. The Bulldogs had just 48 plays compared to the Eagles' 64 plays.

But the Bulldogs did gain a season-high 205 yards.

"Coach Dement's got his hands full," said Pixley. "We were in the same boat last year. They're on hard times right now. They've got kids that play hard, but they had a critical turnover there at the end and that's what's killed them this season. They had their kids prepared, I give them credit. The game comes down to four or five plays. We got lucky and made them at the right time and they didn't. That was a New England Patriot-type win. A lot of good defense and just enough offense to put one in the bag."

Ferrell threw for a season-high 104 yards, completing 7-of-13 passes. Howard caught six passes for 87 yards.

Dixon rushed for 50 yards on 11 carries.