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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Cape Central can't keep up with Eagle offense

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cape Central's Cantrell Andrews, center, gains some yards during the first half against New Madrid County Central at Houck Field Friday night. NMCC?won the game 44-35.
(Elizabeth Dodd, SEMO?News Service)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Cantrell Andrews had one of the best games of his high school career against New Madrid County Central on Friday.

He rushed for two touchdowns, including one 58-yarder.

He caught a 34-yard touchdown.

He rushed for 216 yards.

But it wasn't enough.

Andrews and the Tigers clung to a three-point lead in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles would deny them the upset. New Madrid scored two touchdowns in the final 6 minutes, 59 seconds of the game to win 44-35.

Central dropped to 0-2, while New Madrid improved to 1-1.

The crucial play came with about 3 minutes remaining in the fourth and the Eagles leading 38-35. They went for it with the ball on the Central 40-yard line, facing a fourth-and-8 play. If the Tigers could have stopped them, they would have gotten the football back with a chance to drive for the win.

The handoff was to New Madrid tailback G'Darius Stevenson, who turned it left. He was met in the backfield by the Central defense, and it looked like Stevenson would be dropped for a loss. Instead, the elusive back darted away from the pressure and sprinted 24 yards for the first down. New Madrid would follow that run with a touchdown 30 seconds later, eliminating Central's chance for a victory.

"Our O line did a good job of blocking and I got it outside, and [Andrews] tried to stop me and he almost had me," Stevenson said. "I was just, 'I just got to make it. I've got to do it for my team.'"

Andrews said the tackle should have been made.

"It was just a missed tackle," Andrews said. "That's what we need to work on -- staying low and not looking up at the body because they were good athletes. We just needed to pay attention to their hips and just follow through with our tackles.

Andrews looked at the positive. He was happy his team played a close game after losing to New Madrid 61-16 last season.

"That's just a big improvement -- just to be in competition and have the game going neck and neck and everybody on the edge of their seat," Andrews said. "See, I think we did a good job."

Central had trouble stopping the big plays. That was a concern for first-year Central coach Rich Payne after his team let up touchdowns of 79, 74 and 53 yards in Week 1.

The Tigers allowed New Madrid two kickoff returns in the first half Friday. It also allowed the Eagles to score on touchdown runs of 41 and 48 yards.

"We've got a load of inexperience on kickoff this year," Andrews said. "Coach is trying to get them, the lower classmen, ready. ... Down the year, we'll get better at that."

New Madrid struck first with a littler trickery as Rodney Anderson took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

"I think it was the fake that really threw them off," Andrews said. "[Coach] was telling us to just keep our heads up. There was a lot of game left."

The Eagles converted a 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.

The Tigers battled back, scoring the next two touchdowns to pull ahead. They scored on a third-and-11 play from the Eagles' 34-yard line. Quarterback Andrew Williams threw a perfect lead pass to Andrews, who was streaking down the right sideline and sprinted in for the score. The extra-point try was no good to make it 8-6.

"Every time he touches the ball you just don't know what's going to happen," Williams said about Andrews. "He's so electric. He's just a really good athlete. I'm glad he's on my team."

Central took a 12-8 lead when Andrews ran in a touchdown from 10 yards out. It was part of a eight-play, 72-yard drive. The Tigers converted their 2-point try, making it 14-8.

New Madrid tied it 14-14 on a kickoff return of 65 yards with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter. The Eagles were unsuccessful on their conversion try.

New Madrid then struck 1:06 later. The Eagles intercepted Williams, and on their first play following the interception, Bryan Waters darted 41 yards for a score, making it 20-14. The 2-point try was no good.

The Tigers did not take long to regain the lead. They scored on the second play of the ensuing possession when Andrews ran for a 58-yard score just 10 seconds into the second quarter. The extra-point kick was good, making it 32-21.

New Madrid controlled the rest of the second quarter. The Eagles scored running touchdowns of 48 and 18 yards in the last 3:45 minutes to claim a 32-2 halftime lead.

Central got the ball to start the second half. The Tigers were back up on their own 15-yard line facing a 3-and-28 play when Andrews broke a 78-yard run to put his team in the red zone at the New Madrid 7-yard line. Brandon Pickens took the handoff on the next play, sprinting around the left side and scoring to cut the deficit to 32-27. The extra point kick was good, brining it 32-28.

That's the way the score stayed for the rest of the third. And with time expiring in the third, Central blocked a New Madrid punt. Shawn Hammock recovered and brought it down to the Eagles' 34-yard line. On a second-and-10 play from the 34, Williams threw a bullet to Drew Gardner, who made a nice catch running into the end zone for the score. Central added the extra point to take a 35-32 lead.

Mew Madrid got the ball back and took it 38 yard on eight plays to make it 38-35. The Eagles scored on a 15-yard run by Stevenson with 6:59 remaining in the game, then tacked on another touchdown with 2:29 remaining.