(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
MALDEN -- With a trip to the Class 2 playoffs on the line Thursday night, the Malden Green Wave found a way to shut down an East Prairie offense that had scored 30-plus points in six of their previous nine contests.
While holding the Eagles to 116 yards of total offense, the Green Wave rode their ground game to 342 yards and three scores to wrap up the 27-0 win.
"We probably made a lot of mistakes (on offense), but they were a good defense," Eagle's quarterback Connor Scott said. "They were flying around to the ball every time."
Locked in a scoreless battle for nearly the entire first half, Malden got a huge boost going into the locker when they were able to break through an East Prairie goal line with just 34 seconds left in the second quarter.
Down to fourth and goal just inches from the goal line after East Prairie had stuffed three-straight run attempts, Malden finally reached paydirt when quarterback Tanner Murphy kept the ball himself and broke through the Eagles line to give his team a six point lead.
"I thought he was stuffed to begin with, but then he had just enough lean to get in," Green Wave coach Joel Wyatt said. "That was huge on Murphy's part to get a little momentum."
Malden was able to make it a two-score game with Murphy taking it in from three yards out, capping a 72-yard drive that put the Green Wave up 14-0 with 2:32 left in the quarter.
With the Eagle's offense forced to punt back to Malden to end their next series, the Green Wave all but iced the game on the next possession when Murphy connected with Quentin Jackson for an 14-yard score up the right side with under eight minutes to play.
"We knew that they ran a lot of different formations and it was hard to prepare for them, East Prairie's Mikey Russell said. "But we did the best we could and we came in here with the mindset that we were going to win this game and they beat us.
"That's a good Malden team."
Though he obviously would like to still be playing, East Prairie coach Jason Aycock said he's proud of his kids and hopes they came away with something positive from their last game.
"We've had a good season," he said. "Malden was just a better team than us. I take the hit on that. I just hope the kids take something from this game and use it in life. Not something from me, just anything from the game. That's my hope."
Next up for Malden, the Green Wave will visit Herculaneum this Wednesday where they will play the Blackcats in the opening round of the playoffs
East Prairie finishes the year with a 6-4 record.
M -- Tanner Murphy 1 run (Kyle Lamarr kick failed), 0:34
M -- Tanner Murphy 3 run (Jordan McMunn pass from Tanner Murphy good), 2:32
M -- Quentin Jackson 14 pass from Tanner Murphy (Kyle Lamarr kick good), 7:26
M -- Percy Johnson 24 run (Kyle Lamarr kick failed), 1:49
East Prairie -- Zach Shipman 10-51, JT Aycock 9-5, Alan Miller 4-8, Connor Scott 4-(-9), Aaron Miller 3-(-6). Malden -- Tanner Murphy 15-69, Justin Rowe 12-83, Patrick Wilson 11-126, Ray Wilson 6-33, Percy Johnson 2-29, Quentin Jackson 1-2.
East Prairie -- Connor Scott 5-15-0 67. Malden -- Tanner Murphy 7-11-0 85.
East Prairie -- Phillip Latamondeer 3-23, Mikey Russell 1-10, Aaron Miller 1-34. Malden -- Quentin Jackson 6-77, Patrick Wilson 1-8.