The Eagles scored the game-winning touchdown with a little over a minute to play to defeat the Bulldogs 27-20.
The game marks Sikeston's most complete performance of the season, but head coach Jerry Dement wasn't about to count it as a moral victory for his winless team.
"We played better, but not good enough," said Dement. "New Madrid played well enough to beat us. We've got to play better to win -- that's what we're all about."
With the score tied at 20-20 in the fourth quarter, Sikeston had possession with a chance for a game-winning drive. But the NMCC defense held firm and forced a punt, which covered just 28 yards.
The big play came on 4th-and-10 at the 33-yard line. NMCC quarterback Leslie Williams lofted a pass into traffic, but Eagle running back Marquese Gates simply out-jumped the Bulldog defenders for the reception. Not only did he catch the pass, though, he pushed forward an extra couple yards for the first down.
"That was a big play -- we had a kid in the perfect position but they just out-
jumped us for it," said Dement. "Credit New Madrid, they put the ball where he could catch it and he went up and got it. We just got out-jumped. That's kind of been the story in a lot of games this year."
NMCC head coach Arlen Pixley liked his team's chances once they secured the first down.
NMCC was able to punch it in from there with DeAnton Brown scoring on a 2-
yard run with 1:10 left in the game for the winning touchdown.
Sikeston (0-6) had one final gasp at tying the game, but they couldn't cross midfield. The drive ended on fourth down when quarterback Charlie Bohannon was sacked and fumbled, which NMCC's Woody Smelser recovered to seal the victory.
It was a heartbreaking finish to an otherwise inspiring performance by the Bulldogs after getting blown out three straight weeks.
The Bulldogs set a season-high in passing yards with 255, but were limited to just three yards rushing, a total that was skewed by five quarterback sacks.
Sikeston sophomore quarterback Charlie Bohannon, in just his second varsity start, threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns, completing 12-of-17 passes.
Slotback Michael Payne also threw a 62-yard touchdown on a double-pass.
But as gaudy as the passing stats were, the rushing stats were that poor.
"We didn't run the ball like we needed to," said Dement. "They stacked the box on us so we threw the ball a little more. It's nice to see Charlie kind of have a breakout game. He threw the ball well. We've just got to improve our running game more. If we get them both to click on the same night that will give us more options."
Sikeston's defense also had a decent game as they forced two NMCC turnovers and four punts. With the exception of a few big plays, the Bulldogs tackled much better.
"We tackled well at the point of attack, but we did not tackle well in the open field," said Dement. "We've shown them how to do it, now it's up to the kids to do it in a game. I thought we had a good game-plan defensively. Sometimes we'd have the kids in the right position to make the play, but we just didn't get it done."
NMCC rushed for 169 yards led by senior running back Marquese Gates' 100 yards on 19 carries. NMCC junior quarterback Leslie Williams rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries.
"(Sikeston) did some things that we haven't necessarily seen before," said Pixley. "Their kids played hard and they got off the ball well. We didn't block particularly well and that was a result of what they were doing. They had us pretty much figured out. We had to make some adjustments late there."
Sikeston started the game with a bit of trickery.
It was 3rd-and-9 on the Bulldogs' opening drive of the game. Bohannon threw a short lateral pass to Payne, who turned and fired a strike to a wide open Joey Williams down the sideline for a 62-yard touchdown.
Gavilan Bland ran in the two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs an 8-0 just a little over a minute into the contest.
It marked the first time this season Sikeston has led in a game and is also the first time the Bulldogs have scored on their opening drive.
"We wanted to try to get a spark early in the game and get some momentum and get some energy in our kids and it worked," said Dement. "It worked until they scored, and then we dropped our head a little bit. But to the kids' credit, they rallied in the second half and played with passion. We haven't always done that this year. Hopefully we can build on that."
Pixley said his team was bound to be burned by such a play given his team's aggressive nature on defense.
"We've been highly aggressive on defense the last couple week and it's paid off for us," said Pixley. "That's what you do when you see defenses that are real aggressive. You've got to come out with a little razzle-dazzle with the slot pass out there. I figured sooner or later somebody's going to catch us with that. They had a couple screens they caught us with. I'm not going to fault our scheme. That's what we do, we're super-aggressive on defense and we're going to try to get after you."
The Bulldog defense then stepped up with back-to-back three-and-outs on the NMCC offense, but Sikeston couldn't take advantage.
NMCC finally put together a drive in the second quarter buoyed by Leslie Williams' 37-yard option keeper. Williams eventually scored on a 10-yard run with 7:49 left in the second quarter. Gates ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game at 8-8.
Later in the quarter, NMCC put together another scoring drive right before halftime.
The big play came on 4th-and-3 with 33 seconds left in the half. With no timeouts, Gates took the handoff right through the middle for the first down, but he spun off a Bulldog defender and was eventually knocked out of bounds at the 3-yard line. The run covered 37 yards, which proved to be a backbreaker for the Bulldogs.
Gates scored on the next play with 19 seconds left to give the Eagles a 14-8 lead at halftime.
After the two teams traded punts to start the third quarter, NMCC pushed its lead to 20-6 when Williams hit Justin Beasley on a wide open pass play for a 50-yard touchdown with 6:02 left in the third.
"I thought we had a letdown in the second quarter, but we rallied around in the second half and played hard," said Dement. "We finally learned to play hard for just about every play. Not quite every play, but most of them. And that gave us a chance. I think the kids are learning that they have to play hard every play."
The Bulldogs responded with a touchdown of their own three plays later. Facing 3rd-and-long, Bohannon found Byron Davis on a screen play. Davis appeared to be hemmed in along the sideline, but he somehow tip-toed down the sideline and out-ran the rest of the NMCC defense for a 73-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 20-14.
On NMCC's next possession, Josh Jackson intercepted a Williams pass and returned it 20 yards to the Bulldog 30. Two plays later, Bohannon lofted a high pass downfield to Brandon Wright.
An NMCC defender appeared to be in position to deflect the pass, but it went just over his head and into Wright's hands for a 70-yard touchdown to tie the game at 20-20 with 11:46 left in the fourth quarter.
On NMCC's next possession, Jackson intercepted another Williams pass and returned it to the Bulldog 17 where they took possession with 9:29 left in the game.
But the Bulldog offense stalled, forcing a punt and setting up NMCC's final game-winning drive.
Bland led Sikeston's rushing with 17 yards on four carries. Davis was limited to 16 yards on 10 carries. But Davis did more damage through the air as he caught five passes for 104 yards. Joey Williams had two catches for 73 yards.
Other than quarterback sacks, Sikeston's rushing attack still managed only 55 yards on 21 carries.
NMCC's Williams completed 5-of-9 passes for 105 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown.
Beasley caught two passes for 53 yards. Smelser caught two passes for 41 yards.
"You've got to give Sikeston's coaching staff a lot of credit," said Pixley. "They did the right things against us tonight. We'll have to make some adjustments next week in preparing for Centralia."
NMCC will host Class 2 state-ranked Centralia next Saturday at 2 p.m.
Sikeston will travel to play Kennett next Friday at 7 p.m.