NMCC improves to 2-0 in Class 3, District 1. Dexter is also undefeated after blowing out Kennett 37-0. The two teams will meet for the championship Thursday night at the Bearcats.
With a north wind gusting over 30 mph and a driving rain for much of the first half, the weather was the main story of the game between the Eagles and the Pirates.
NMCC and Perryville combined to commit seven fumbles in the first half, five by the Eagles, as the field was a mud pit in the south end of the field between the 40- and 20-yard line.
"This was the roughest game I have ever coached in," said NMCC head coach Arlen Pixley. "The wind had the biggest plays tonight. As the week started we were getting ready to use our speed to our advantage. We thought we had the speed edge, but as the week went by and it kept on raining and raining, we had to change our plans. Even in the pregame, we were making changes to the plan at that late hour."
"It was a tough game," said Perryville head coach Rick Chastain. "It was the same for both teams so there are no excuses. It is a tough situation when the weather has a major role in the game."
Both clubs had problems handling the football, and punting the football proved to be very difficult. NMCC and Perryville wore out the playing field toward the south goal post.
"Both teams got trapped in that big mud puddle," said Pixley. "We went to power plays and got a big run from Gates. A passing attack was virtually non-
Perryville got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter, thanks to a trick play. The Pirates took over at the Eagles' 35-yard line after a 10-yard punt from the Eagles.
The Pirates scored on their first play from scrimmage as quarterback Ryan Lorenz found receiver T.J. Kirn open for a 10-yard gain. Before he was to be tackled, Kirn pitched back to a trailing Kris Cottner who took the hook-and-
ladder play for a 25-yard touchdown run. Perryville failed on the extra point and trailed 7-6 heading into the half.
"We haven't seen that play from them in our films," said Pixley. "It worked well and just had excellent timing. Great call by their coaches over there."
Chastain dead-panned that the play has always been in the playbook for the Pirates.
"We work on that play every day in practice," said Chastain. "It was a designed play and we thought we could take advantage of the field conditions."
Perryville took the lead at the start of the fourth quarter on a 11-yard run by Cottner. The Pirates had excellent field position set up by a blocked punt that allowed Perryville to set up shop on the New Madrid 11. Cottner punched it in on the next play but the two-point conversion run failed and the Pirates led 12-7 with 11:53 to play in the game.
On the Eagles next possession which started from their own 40-yard line, quarterback Leslie Williams kept NMCC alive with a big 4th-and-1 conversion with 10 minutes to play in the game.
A 19-yard gain by Williams and a Gates 17-yard run helped the Eagles move down the field as time elapsed in the fourth. The Gates run was helped out by a personal foul face mask penalty that moved the football all the way down to Pirates' 5-yard line.
Williams put the Eagles up by one on a 3-yard quarterback keeper to the end zone with 7:38 to play in the contest. Gates tacked on a two-point conversion run and the Eagles defense held up for the 15-12 final score.
"We hit some big plays late that really helped us," said Pixley. "We ran some simple bootlegs to the mud side of the field and that seemed to surprise them."
The Eagles defense held the Pirates to 167 total yards in the game and Perryville had issues holding on to the football in the second half, as they had four fumbles. Both teams combined to commit 12 fumbles in the game.
Pixley had high praise for linebackers Sedrick Hemphill and Dijuan Waters.
"Both of those kids played very well tonight," said Pixley. "Waters has stepped up and is maturing as a football player. All of our linebackers did their job tonight and it was good to get the win considering the conditions."
Perryville (4-5, 0-2) travels to Kennett to end their season on Friday night at 7 p.m.
NMCC (7-2, 2-0) will invade Charles Bland Stadium on Thursday night at 7 p.m. to battle the Dexter Bearcats (8-1, 2-0). The winner of the matchup will be crowned district champions for the 2006 season in Class 3, District 1.