(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Almost every game this season, the Sikeston Bulldogs have tried to throw off opposing defenses with some sort of big yardage play. Whether it be a long, gadget pass from quarterback Trey Lewis or a reverse/misdirection run from their array of running options.
On Wednesday night to open their first round game of the Class 4 playoffs against the Potosi Trojans, Sikeston chose a pass play. And they chose right.
Lewis threw a 52-yard touchdown strike to sophomore Kyland Gross during the first play from scrimmage at Sikeston Public High School Stadium. With just 10 seconds ticked off the clock, the Bulldogs held a 7-0 lead and a firm grip on what would be a 62-8 Sikeston win.
"That's us," Sikeston head coach Kent Gibbs said. "From week to week we want to be aggressive on defense and start fast on offense. We work through the week on trying to get a good start and selecting plays that will get us there. We try to take advantage early of some things we think we can do.
"Certainly, that's what happened on the first play."
From there the Bulldogs continued to roll, despite a long drive from Potosi and their quarterback, Matt Marler, soon after Sikeston's first score.
Marler, and the rest of the Trojan offense, calmly rattled off a 10-play drive that looked to be ending in the end zone. But, the Bulldog defense started to gain a feel for Marler and the passing attack forcing the Trojans into a fourth down situation.
Ray Clark abruptly ended Potosi's first drive with a sack on Marler.
The Bulldogs, 40 seconds later, found the end zone when senior Darryl Howard, who led Sikeston with 95 yards rushing on eight carries, scored on a 47-yard run through the middle of the field, beating Potosi defenders as he sped by.
In less than a minute of possession time, Sikeston's offense had them up 14-0.
"Anytime you're in a playoff game and you make that first strike, particularly when you do it quick, it sets the tone if you follow that up with good play," Gibbs said. "We did follow it up with good play, both offensively and defensively."
Another long offensive drive by the Trojans was halted during the next series. Potosi (7-4) managed to move the ball to Sikeston's 5-yard line but was moved back by negative plays and penalties, including a delay of game.
Gross intercepted Marler's 4th-and-30 pass in the end zone, running it back to the 32-yard line.
"That was one of our keys coming in was to not give up the big play right off the bat," Potosi head coach Mark Casey said. "Make them earn everything they get. But, with (Sikeston scoring) so quick, we had to set up and refocus. We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot early on and it cost us.
"From there it kind of snow balled."
Following Gross' pick, a 24-yard catch and run by Howard gave the Bullodgs a 21-0 advantage at the end of the first quarter. It was the beginning of the end as Sikeston went on to outscore the Trojans 34-0 from that point until Potosi's Trevor Cain caught a 12-yard pass from Marler in the fourth quarter making it 55-8.
Sikeston scored 27 points in the second quarter highlighted by a 42-yard run by James Watson and an 84-yard interception return by Brandon Blissett. Janiel Hatchett also made history with his one and only catch of the game during the second quarter.
Needing only nine yards to eclipse the single-season receiving record, Hatchett snagged a 45-yard pass to put his name on top of that list. Scotty Keenan held the record with 786 yards in 2003.
With a big lead at hand, most of Sikeston's starters sat out the second half. With a 48-0 lead, the Bulldogs had ran for 228 rushing yards in the first half with four rushing touchdowns. Lewis ended his night on 4-of-5 passing for 163 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Sikeston combined for 391 yards in the first half alone.
"We knew coming in Sikeston was a really, really good football team," said Casey. "We knew to even stay in the game, we were going to have to play a perfect game. We had some sparks early on where we felt like we were moving the ball and things that we wanted to do. It just didn't come together for us like we needed it to."
Marler, who ends his three-year reign as Potosi quarterback with a 27-8 record as a starter, threw for 267 yards on 20-of-35 passing. Senior Dylan Eye led the Trojans with eight catches for 129 yards while Tyler Nunez led on the ground with 23 yards on six carries.
"Our guys played hard," Casey said. "I can't fault them there. It was just one of those teams you run into that was just a little bit better."
Sikeston (11-0) continues their unbeaten season on Monday with their second meeting against the Cape Central Tigers, who beat DeSoto 61-28.
S -- Kyland Gross 52 pass from Trey Lewis (Hunter Williams kick), 11:50
S -- Darryl Howard 47 run (Williams kick), 6:34
S -- Howard 24 pass from Lewis (Williams kick), 0:53
S -- James Watson 42 run (Williams kick), 11:15
S -- Ray Clark 4 run (Williams kick), 8:19
S -- Brandon Blissett 84 interception return (Williams kick), 5:59
S -- Watson 5 run (run failed), 0:13
S -- Markeith Bratcher 5 run (Williams kick), 2:42
P -- Trevor Cain 12 pass from Matt Marler (Jeremy Malugen pass from Cain), 7:38
S -- David Foster 26 run (Williams kick), 1:49
Potosi -- Tyler Nunez 6-23, Garth Rogers 1-2, Dusty Wideman 2-7, Matt Marler 9-(-10), Robert King 1-7, Andre Douthit 1-0, Austin Birmingham 1-(-5), Team 1-(-8). Sikeston -- Darryl Howard 8-95, Trey Lewis 3-9, James Watson 7-74, Kyland Gross 2-39, Ray Clark 2-11, Darien Boyd 8-56, Chris Word 4-8, David Foster 3-52, Markeith Bratcher 4-22, Team 1-(-14).
Potosi -- Matt Marler 20-35-2 267. Sikeston -- Trey Lewis 4-5-0 163.
Potosi -- Dylan Eye 8-129, Tyler Nunez 3-23, Trevor Cain 4-90, Kevin Bach 4-24, Zach Adams 1-1. Sikeston -- Kyland Gross 1-52, Janiel Hatchett 1-45, Ray Clark 1-42, Darryl Howard 1-24.