The Eagles, improving to 3-1, showed explosiveness on offense with scores from 59, 54, 45 and 32 yards out.
"They've got a good team," said Charleston coach Al Marshall, "but you just hate to lose one like that."
Twice postponed, once on Friday night and again on Saturday afternoon, the game finally kicked off on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Charleston's Marshall Field.
With the Bluejays leading 21-6, tailback Marquese Gates broke fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 59 and 32 yards for the go-ahead and insurance points. His 2-point conversion run following the 59-yarder lifted the Eagles to their first lead of the game at 22-21.
The host Bluejays (2-1) opened the scoring with a flawless 12-play, 72-yard drive, all on the ground while consuming nearly six minutes off the clock.
Quarterback Justin Clark finished off the drive with a 7-yard rollout. Tailback Jerquawn Sherrell kept the chains moving with 51 rushing yards.
NMCC came right back with Leslie Williams' 59-yard strike to wideout Tommy Rowe. Rowe grabbed the pass across the middle between two colliding Charleston defenders and scampered untouched to the end zone to narrow the gap 7-6 with 2:06 remaining in the first period.
The Bluejays dodged two excellent Eagle' scoring opportunities in the second quarter.
First, a personal foul penalty negated Rowe's punt return for a touchdown to open the second quarter, but still set Eagle possession at the Bluejay 36 from the point of the foul. With NMCC inside the red zone, Charleston's defense stiffened to contain the Eagles and take over on downs.
Then, following a fake punt and incomplete pass attempt by Charleston at their own 22, NMCC turned the ball over on a fumble on the first play of the ensuing series. The Eagles fumbled seven times, but recovered five.
"I guess our hands are still wet from dealing with all the water in New Madrid County this weekend because we sure didn't hang onto the ball very well," said NMCC coach Arlen Pixley.
Many of the NMCC players were caught up in the rain and storm conditions which ravaged the area, creating flooding of some players' homes and a need to evacuate others.
"I haven't been in contact with most of my players since Friday," said Pixley. "My hat's off to my kids and my coaches for the great job they did in getting them focused today."
But it was the Bluejays who had it going early. Clark hit receiver Jerrell Quinn in stride on a fly pattern for a 30-yard TD with 48 seconds remaining to send the Jays in with a 13-6 halftime advantage. Jamarcus Williams' leaping 33-
yard grab from Clark was the big play in the drive.
In the third quarter, good fortune continued to smile on the Jays.
A bad snap caused an 11-yard loss deep in Eagle territory, then, on the next play, the Jays' Garrison Eastman recovered another NMCC fumble at the Eagle 15. Three incomplete passes and a five-yard penalty left Charleson with a fourth-and-15 at the Eagle 20, when Clark's tipped pass on fourth down fell into the arms of Jamarcus Williams in the end zone. Quinn's 2-point conversion run sent the Jays ahead 21-6 at the 5:07 mark of the third period.
Less than a minute later, however, momentum began to shift as Leslie Williams found wide-open receiver Justin Beasley for a 45-yard TD. DeAnton Brown's 2-point conversion run cut the margin to 21-14.
NMCC kept momentum on their side in the decisive final quarter, outscoring the Jays 14-0.
Said Pixley, "My guys bowed their necks in the fourth quarter and we made the plays we had to make."
Charleston was without injured leading rusher Joseph Watts.
"It was a tremendous fight, but if you take Joe, our gamebreaker, out of there we lose a lot," said Marshall. "He can do so many things."
Sherrell led the Jays with 81 rushing yards while Gates matched that number for the Eagles with the two scoring runs. The Eagles' Leslie Williams was 3-
of-8 for 106 yards and two scores with no interceptions while Charleston's Clark was 10-of-23 for 114 yards and two scores, but threw three picks.
Next Friday, NMCC hosts Caruthersville and Charleston visits Hayti.