DEXTER -- Dexter's 38-yard field goal attempt to tie the game with less than two minutes to play sailed wide left and a tough Festus Tigers team managed to escape with a 13-10 win over the Bearcats Friday night at Charles Bland Stadium.
"We were fourth and about 15 and we had tried three straight passes that didn't work," Dexter coach Aaron Pixley said of the late-game situation. "We felt good about (Logan) Swindle from the 20 yard line and I asked him if he felt good about it and he said let me have it.
"That one play, that missed field goal, didn't lose us game," Pixley added. "Whenever you are in that position you are torn between do we throw or do we kick. I felt good about him kicking and it didn't happen. So Festus played great and they won this football game. We just have to come back and play Sikeston hard next week."
It was a Logan Swindle 28-yard field goal with 38 second remaining in the first half that stacked Dexter to a 10-7 lead, a margin the Bearcats protected until late in the fourth quarter before Festus mounted a seven-play 69-yard drive to take the lead, 13-10, after a blown point after attempt.
Chad Ventura took the ensuring kickoff and returned the ball to the Dexter 37 where Josh Stevens and the Bearcats' offense set up shop with 4 minutes remaining on the game clock. Stevens (10-of-27 for 176 yards) completed three straight pass to move the ball to Festus 15 before the drive stalled and a sack on third down left Dexter 21 yards from the end zone with 1:57 remaining.
Coach Pixley elected to go for the tie, and Swindle's kick had the distance but missed left. Festus was able pound out one first down and then run out the clock to take the win.
Festus scored on its opening possession, using an 11-play 81-yard drive to score the first points of the game. Senior Antonio Tullock, who finished with a game-high 181 yards rushing on 23 attempts, capped the drive with a 5-yard plunge with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead after the PAT.
Zach Ventura (67 yards on 15 attempts) answered for Dexter with a 3-yard run at the 4:54 mark of the second. The play capped a 8-play 28-yard drive. Swindle's PAT tied the game at 7-7.
After Dexter's defense held, Stevens directed a 10-play drive that included nine passes and one run to moved the ball to the Festus 10-yard line where Swindle's 28-yard field goal with :36 second remaining gave the Bearcats a 10-7 advantage that they took into halftime. A Stevens to Drew Satterfield pass good for 19-yards on fourth and 10 was the big play of the drive.
The two teams battled through a scoreless third quarter before Festus put together the winning drive in the fourth. The Tigers went to the ground-and-
pound offense on the decisive drive, running the ball behind their big offensive line seven consecutive times to reach paydirt.
Brandon Moore (7 carries for 74 yards) rumbled in from six out to score the touchdown.
Offensively the 'Cats were their own worst enemy, dropping several passes and taking several penalties that thwarted drives.
"We dropped some key passes in this football game," Pixley said.
"Throughout the preseason and the first game we did a good job of catching balls that were there. And we caught a lot of them tonight, but at the same time we dropped some pretty key ones.
"But the effort was there," he continued. "They were going all out. They're not trying to mess up and those are physical mistakes. You can correct physical mistakes. As long as they're not mental, we can handle that because whenever you're making physical mistakes you know you are going as hard as you can. And that's what I felt are kids were doing."
Stevens connected with five different receivers. Swindle finished with four catches for 52 yards, while Anthony Alsup caught two for 70 yards, including a 51-yard play to the Festus 20 yard line that was erased when the 'Cats fumbled on the next offensive play.
"Our kids played hard," Pixley stated. "We had plenty of opportunities to win that game. We just didn't get it done. We had some key penalties to stop some big drives for us.
"But at the same time that's a very good football team over there," Pixley noted. "They made us work our rear ends off and that's what our kids did. We didn't tackle well in certain parts of the game but others I thought we tackled really well. They have some good running backs and we knew that. It was just a very hard fought football game and my hats off to Festus. We have no excuses."
The loss drops Dexter to 1-1 on the season, while Class 4 Festus improves to 2-0.
"It was a great effort by our guys, but at the same time they're not happy about it," Pixley noted. "It's a very emotional group over there but we have to find a way to let it go and play a better game against Sikeston."