(Photos by Josh Mills, Staff)
FREDERICKTOWN -- The Sikeston Bulldogs kicked off the football season on Friday evening as they traveled north to play the Fredericktown Blackcats. After an intense four quarter battle the home team prevailed as the Blackcats downed their visiting opponent 42-29.
"When it came time to make our schedule there was a couple of different ways we could go, and my thought process was if you want to get good, you've got to play good," said Sikeston head coach Kent Gibbs following the game. "We played a good football team the first game. I'd play them again."
The Bulldogs welcomed back Eli Jackson to the starting lineup after missing 2007 with a season-ending injury while the Blackcats had a four-man wrecking crew that they handed off to all night long.
To get the offense going, Zach Sohn racked up a few first downs before receiving a two-yard pass from A.P. Lewandowski at 2:43 that put Fredericktown on the board first.
After another exchange of possessions, Eli Jackson had several key blocks set out in front of him and helped push the Bulldogs down field. With 6:17 on the clock, Charlie Bohannon connected with Jordan Williams down the left side of the field for Sikeston's first score of the season. Eli Jackson tacked on the extra point to even the score at 7-7 where it would remain as the first quarter came to a close.
In the second quarter neither offense managed to put numbers on the board despite having prime opportunities.
Bohannon first intercepted a pass from Fredericktown, then as the Bulldogs marched down field, the Blackcats returned the favor as one of the defenders swiped a pass right out of the air in the end zone with just a few ticks left on the clock.
At the half, both squads were even at 7-7.
In the second half, the two teams began to pile in offensive stats as well as scoreboard digits with Fredericktown throwing the first punch.
Sohn scored his second touchdown of the game on a five yard pass from A.P. Lewandowski. After an extra point kick from Glen Anthony, the score was 14-7 in favor of the home team.
Demetrious Jackson answered quickly for Sikeston as he ran back the kickoff 90 yards for the score. Eli Jackson missed the extra point and the Bulldogs trailed 14-13.
Fredericktown tacked on another 22 points in the fourth as the Bulldogs could only come up with 16 of their own as they fell 42-29 in their first contest of the young season.
"I liked our effort for four quarters," said Gibbs. "Last year that (score) probably ends up being 40-8, but our kids hung in there and they battled all the way through just like the Fredericktown kids did. We told them coming in that they're (Fredericktown) not going to quit and they're going to play hard, and I think we played hard."
"I'm happy with how we played in certain spots," he added. "Obviously we've got a couple of things to clean up. I'm more happy with our effort."
Gibbs said that the defense did a good job on Friday evening, but said that they're going to have to step up their pressure against opponents' perimeter play. He also said that playing the difficult Blackcats early in the year will help as the season progresses.
"The big key to our season is how we rebound on this loss, if we're able to overcome it and come back and play some more football," he said. "We'll just have to wait and see how that plays out."
Gibbs also thought that having Eli Jackson back in uniform was a big help, but stated that several other Bulldogs made a big case for themselves in Friday's defeat.
"Having Eli Jackson back was really big," he said. "Just as importantly, Charlie Bohannon made some plays, Jarian Wims came in there late and made some plays. At times, our offensive line did a good job, and it's got to be a team deal. We feel like if we can get to clicking like we think we can, then we ought to be able to move the football."
Eli Jackson carried the ball 13 times for 122 yards, while Charlie Bohannon was 4-for-6 passing for 103 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Leading the way in receiving for Sikeston was Williams, who had two receptions for 43 yards including a touchdown.
For Fredericktown, several players attributed to the victory, and head coach Shannon Henson was quick to point out that all four of his running backs had a major role in the win.
"We had four different backs in there," said Henson. "We're probably going to have to do our running backs by committee this year. They all four did a good job for us tonight."
Sohn led all rushers for the Blackcats with 19 carries for 123 yards. Sohn had two touchdown receptions as well.
Henson also said that he felt like his young quarterback handled the opening game well.
"He's a young kid," said Henson. He's only a sophomore and he showed some poise tonight even though he made some sophomore mistakes. He didn't get his head down and he ran the offense efficiently."
The respected quarterback, A.P. Lewandowski, was 7-for-11 with 173 yards of offense in the air.
Up next for Sikeston (0-1) is a home game against their rival the Charleston Bluejays. The contest begins Friday at 7 p.m. at Sikeston Public Schools Stadium.