(David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Bulldogs kept their dream season alive on Monday night with a 26-11 win over the Poplar Bluff Mules.
The Bulldogs, who blanked Poplar Bluff in their first meeting this year, used that same defense to hold one of the area's best running teams to zero yards on the ground. Three interceptions by the Bulldogs defense helped fuel the Sikeston offense who got things started early with a 10-yard run by Sikeston quarterback Juqualin Wiggins five minutes into the first quarter.
The Mules tried to contain the Bulldogs deep passing option throughout the night which opened things up for their just-as-tough running game. Sikeston running back Eli Jackson put the Bulldogs up by 12 points after a 6-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.
The score would remain that way until the third quarter when Wiggins barreled in for a 7-yard touchdown run. Jackson took in the 2-point conversion to give Sikeston a 20-0 lead with 6:23 left in the third.
The Mules got on the board for the first time on a blocked punt that rolled out of the back of the end zone with just over three minutes left in the third quarter for a safety.
On the ensuing possession, Poplar Bluff scored their first touchdown after sophomore quarterback Michael Griggs, who came in to start the second half, hit Jake Smith with a shovel pass from six yards out. Sikeston now led 20-8.
On the Bulldogs' very next drive they answered Poplar Bluffs score with one of their own. A 27-yard screen pass to Niquavious Dixon eventually set up a 7-yard run by Jackson early in the fourth quarter to seal Sikeston's first-ever sectional win.
A 27-yard field goal by Kenyan Francis made it the final of 26-11.
Jackson led all rushers with 23 carries and 138 yards. Wiggins gained 106 yards on 20 rushes. Each of them had two touchdown runs apiece.
Wiggins was 7-for-10 in the air for 106 yards as well. He hit Dixon five times for 54 yards as well as Jordan Williams for 52 yards on two catches.
Poplar Bluff ran the ball 17 times for zero yards. Zach Ferguson was the only Mule with positive yardage with nine carries for 22 yards.
Griggs went 10-of-18 passing with 124 yards and one touchdown. He also threw one interception. Starting quarterback Zach McAnulty went 1-for-4 for two yards and two interceptions.
Sikeston (12-0) will host the Ladue Horton Watkins Rams on Saturday who defeated Vashon 41-13. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. at Sikeston Public High School Stadium.
(For more stories and photos see Tuesday's Standard Democrat)