The Eagles could not contain the aerial assault of the Dragons and sophomore quarterback Kory Faulkner. After a slow start, Faulkner passed for 277 yards and threw five touchdowns passes to four different Ste. Gen receivers.
"We have improved on a weekly basis this year," said Dragons head coach Bob Stolzer. "I am proud of our kids' effort tonight but we made way too many mental mistakes. We were throwing the football where we shouldn't and just made some bad decisions in the red zone."
Despite leading 13-0 at the half, Ste. Gen had the opportunity to put the game away early if not for two Eagle interceptions in the end zone by Corey Rowe and Sedrick Hemphill, and a touchdown being called back by a blocking in the back penalty.
"We have to play smarter and cut down on the mental mistakes," said Stolzer. "We need to take advantage of certain situations or it will come back to haunt us. We should've been up 35-0 at the half if not for our mistakes."
"Give credit to our kids," said NMCC head coach Arlen Pixley, "they played hard under trying circumstances. We put ourselves in a tough spot by turning the football over early. We missed some key blocks and they (Ste. Gen) really got after us and put solid pressure on our offense all night long."
The Dragons got on the scoreboard first after the NMCC fumble as junior tailback Chad Greminger broke off a 40-yard run that set up a 4-yard touchdown pass to Curt Roth.
Ste. Gen seemed to dominate the first half of action but only maintained a 7
-0 lead throughout the half. However, after a short Eagle punt that put the Dragons on the NMCC 43-yard line, Faulkner found Greminger streaking down the sideline alone for a 20-yard touchdown with 31 seconds left in the half.
Faulkner threw three touchdown passes of 62, 34 and 20 yards in the third. The Dragons excelled at passes out in the flat and screen passes to the running backs and tight ends.
In the contest, Ste. Gen tight ends Wes Hogenmiller and Roth combined for 155 receiving yards and running backs Greminger and Nick Hermann combined for 100 yards receiving.
"Ste. Gen just throws so much at you in a game," said Pixley. "They had some big plays on screens that really hurt us. It is just a lot to prepare for in a short amount of time. My hats off to Stolzer. I respect him and the program he has got going here. Hermann is just a tough kid who runs extremely low off the ground. He doesn't stick out but he is one of the best backs we have seen all year."
The Eagles got on the board with 6:05 to play in the third quarter trailing 27
-0 on a Marquese Gates 66-yard reception from quarterback Leslie Williams. Gates finished the game with 89 yards receiving and Williams threw for 122 yards.
Faulkner added two more TD passes in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 39-6.
The second and final Eagle score came from senior back DeAnton Brown on a 36-yard run with 4:55 in the fourth to reach the final score 39-12.
"Give New Madrid credit," said Stolzer, "they kept coming back and never quit out there. I thought both teams played hard and I am proud of the way our kids have improved throughout the year. We need to cut down on our mistakes or we will not get past Monday (next playoff game for Dragons).
NMCC ends their season at 8-3 in a season filled with adversity.
"We have had a lot of misfortunes this year," said Pixley. "I just applaud our kids for getting on the bus and playing tonight. We have got a good group of kids who had a great year."
Ste. Gen (8-3) will face Miller Career Academy (7-4) in the quarterfinals on Monday at 7 p.m. in St. Louis.