HAYTI -- The Charleston Bluejays won the first half, but the Caruthersville Tigers dominated the second to walk away with their fourth straight Class 2, District 1 title.
Caruthersville defeated Charleston 30-7 in a decisive final district game at Hayti on Thursday night.
"I'm overwhelmed," said Caruthersville coach Brad Gerling. "It's the first time in school history that we've been able to go on a run like that. We've got a senior class that came in as freshmen and they know nothing but winning district championships. They've been the heart and soul of the team and I'm just proud of those guys."
The Bluejays (1-1) entered with a shot to overtake the Tigers (2-0), needing a nine-point win in conjunction with a Malden victory, to capture the championship.
Malden did its part with a 35-0 win over East Prairie and the Bluejays looked good early, taking a 7-6 lead in at halftime.
"They're a good team, but we gave them a run for their money," said Charleston coach Al Marshall. "We gave them all they wanted, really. The score is not indicative at all of the game."
Both teams looked unstoppable on their respective opening possessions.
Caruthersville drove 65 yards, capped by quarterback Jake VanAusdall's 4-
yard touchdown run around right end. A failed 2-point conversion try left the Tigers up 6-0.
On Charleston's first possession, the Bluejays marched downfield 68 yards to score on tailback Joseph Watts 3-yard scamper. Chase McClendon's extra-
point kick sent the 'Jays ahead 7-6 at the 10:08 mark of the second quarter.
The Tigers mounted another drive on the next possession from their own 37, but the 'Jays' defense stiffened and made a stop on fourth-and-1 at the Charleston 28.
With 3:24 left in the first half, Tiger tailback Kendrickus Reed, who ran for 204 yards on the evening and finished the regular season with 2,102 yards, rambled downfield breaking tackle after tackle for an apparent 53-yard touchdown run. However, the spectacular run was nullified by a clipping call.
The Tigers blew another great scoring opportunity early in the third period, driving from their own 37 to the Charleston 5 before fumbling the ball away.
But, the 'Jays were unable to advance the ball and were forced to kick out of their own end zone. The short punt traveled only to the Charleston 18.
Three plays later, Reed dived over from the 1. VanAusdall's 2-point conversion run set the score at 14-7, in the Tigers' favor.
Charleston was unable to sustain any offensive consistency throughout the entire second half.
"We got behind and started unraveling a little bit," said Marshall. "I think our boys played hard and did what we asked them to do. I'm proud of them."
The Tigers ran the score to 22-7 on Aaron Borders' 3-yard touchdown run and a VanAusdall pass to Rashad Fields for the 2-point conversion.
Fields then tallied on a 45-yard jaunt, displaying some excellent open-field running. Wingback Tristan Sparks closed the scoring with a 2-point conversion run for the 30-7 margin.
Charleston finished the season at a disappointing 3-6.
"We had big expectations at first and we had good reason to, but we had some key injuries and some bad things happen in a few losses," Marshall said. "Four of our six losses were by less than seven points. We could easily be 7-2 instead of 3-6.
"I can't take anything from them (Caruthersville), they've got a good team and I wish them the best. I hope they go up there and beat Crystal City next week."