(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
DEXTER -- The Dexter Bearcats found themselves in an unusual position Friday night: in a close game.
Since the first game of the season, Dexter has either won or lost their games by multiple touchdowns until Friday night. And it took a late interception to hold off a Pirate rally.
Down 14-7, Perryville took the ball at their own 20 with 1:39 left to play. After two first downs, Perryville quarterback Josh Perreault was flushed from the pocket and instead of running out of bounds, threw a pass over the middle that was intercepted by Dexter's David Hessling, sealing the game.
"They had some momentum on us," said Dexter coach Aaron Pixley. "We changed our coverege that last drive and I think that helped. (Perreault) just kept holding on and our guys played their men really well. David read it well and stepped in front and made a great play. It sealed the win for us."
"We played a cover 4 most of the night and then Bobby Rawson and I stepped back," Hessling said. "I covered my zone on the right and he covered his zone on the left. I saw that Jered Stephens had good coverage on the play so I just dropped in the middle and I saw him throw it so I broke on the ball and took it down."
At the time of the interception Perryville seemed to have all of the momentum after scoring their only touchdown on the previous drive. It was a drive that saw them go 90 yards in 16 plays, consuming a majority of the fourth quarter. The drive was aided by Perreault scrambling for big yardage as Dexter dropped back in pass coverage.
"(Perreault), I tip my hat to him," Hessling said. "He read and we covered up and he ran on us and got a lot of first downs."
The Pirates finally scored when Perreault found Craig Brueckner in the back corner of the end zone with a 14-yard touchdown pass.
"Our defensive back had a shot to knock it down but their kid just made a great catch," Pixley said.
The Dexter defense had held Perryville in check for the first three quarters, keeping them scoreless and stifling the Pirates leading rusher Kris Cottner. The Perryville back finished the game with only 56 yards on 17 carries.
"He's really lit some pretty good teams up for a lot of yards," Pixley said. "Our defense played really well. I thought they were playing physical. You have to against guys like that. You have to hit them and hit them as hard as you can and wrap up and tackle. They did that."
Hessling said being senior night helped fire up the defense.
"Coach Pixley talked to us seniors about it being our last game on this field," Hessling said. "I believe that the juniors, sophomores and even freshmen came out hard playing for us. We popped them in the mouth, but Perryville stayed in there and didn't give up."
The Dexter defense led to the first score of the night when Glenn Johnson intercepted a Perryville pass and returned it to the Pirate 17. Four plays later, Bearcat quarterback Ben Mills hit Rawson for an 11-yard touchdown and Dexter had the lead 7-0. Mills finished the game 14-21 for 171 yards.
The Bearcats scored again with 3:06 remaining in the first half when running back Nick Hessling broke free from 37 yards out, giving Dexter a 14-0 lead. Nick Hessling finished the game with 80 yards on 18 carries.
"Our offense sputtered tonight but part of that has to do with Perryville's defense," Pixley said. "They are very physical and they blitz constantly, but our offensive line fought the whole time. They know they've got to get better but we had some really nice plays on offense as well."
Dexter (5-3) will travel to Kennett Friday to take on the 6-2 Indians, 55-14 losers to New Madrid County Central.