(David Jenkins photo)
SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Bulldogs are one game away from a state championship appearance after defeating the Ladue Rams on Saturday afternoon, 28-6, with yet another solid game from the area's best defense.
The Bulldogs defense held the Rams on three red zone attempts one being a gigantic stop just before halftime.
With Sikeston leading 14-3 at the time, Ladue drove the field to the Sikeston one-yard line. As the last remaining seconds of the half continued to tick away, Ladue quarterback Kortland Webb was stuffed on a one-yard loss and then quickly got back to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball with just 1.4 seconds left in the half.
The next play, Sikeston stopped the Rams again at the line of scrimmage, this time Ladue running back Charles Badgett could not find a hole as the buzzer sounded and the Bulldogs ran off towards the locker room with a 14-3 lead at the half.
Sikeston held the Rams to a total of 129 rushing yards throughout the game and held Webb to a total of 79 yards through the air.
Just as it has all year, that combination of stout defensive stops and the offense taking advantage of them had Sikeston it prime position to win their first-ever state quarterfinal game in school history.
The Bulldogs struck quickly in the opening drive running just 1:43 off the clock before scoring the game's first points. Sikeston quarterback Juqualin Wiggins hit senior Niquavious Dixon for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Tanner Bryant made the extra point and was, in fact, 4-for-4 in extra point attempts.
Wiggins put the Bulldogs up 14-3 after a 4-yard touchdown run with just over five minutes left in the second quarter. After being stopped at the end of the half, Ladue came right out and put their second field goal on the board five minutes into the third quarter making it 14-6 Sikeston.
The Bulldogs answered with Dixon's second touchdown reception of the day after a screen pass went for the 11-yard score. Sikeston, once again, forced a Ladue punt shortly after and continued to run time off the clock with three fourth down conversions. The Bulldogs milked over eight minutes of time off the fourth quarter clock which ended in a 6-yard touchdown run from Sikeston senior Eli Jackson.
Dixon ended up catching his fifth ball of the day on the defensive side with a game ending interception. Following the pick, Sikeston went into their victory formation and kneeled out the rest of the clock.
On the offensive side, Dixon had four catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Wiggins went 5-for-8 with 117 yards and two touchdowns as well as 22 rushes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Jackson had 18 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Sikeston will travel to Jefferson City to take on Helias on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in their first semifinal game in school history.
For more on the game see Monday's Standard Democrat.