(Chris Pobst, Staff)
It took a half, but the Bluejays overcame a scoreless stalemate and poured it on the winless New Madrid County Central Eagles on Friday, 33-0.
It's the first time Charleston has defeated the Eagles since 2004. It's also one of the first times in recent memory that the Bluejays are 2-0 within the SEMO Conference.
"Our kids really responded to the adjustments we made at halftime and really went out there and played hard," Charleston coach Brett Blackman said. "It boiled down to some guts and making some plays.
"That's a big win for us -- big shutout for us."
On top of blanking NMCC, who has scored just one touchdown all year and is now staring at a 13-quarter scoring drought, the Bluejays' offense took flight all in one half of play and they did it all without two of their key offensive weapons -- Maurice Moore and Robert Bogan.
The first half for both teams didn't produce much. Together, each team posted seven punts and the ball exchanged possession eight times in the second quarter alone.
"The first half was pretty sloppy," Blackman said. "We couldn't do much offensively."
NMCC (0-4) has seen and been through woeful offensive stretches like that before.
"We're not doing anything on offense," NMCC coach Arlen Pixley said. "We're not moving the ball. We're working with different combinations and have guys in their spots, and finally get some things going, but make some mental mistakes.
"It's either a penalty, turnover or whatever."
To start the second half, however, Charleston (2-2) finally found their groove.
Following a punt by the Eagles in their first possession of the third quarter, Charleston looked to be on their way to punting as well. But, a penalty on the Eagles gave the Bluejays new life and a new set of downs.
The first play after their newfound luck resulted in a 42-yard dash by Rontavious Clark that put Charleston at the NMCC 1-yard line.
Mike Kellum, a sophomore who paced the Bluejays with 153 rushing yards and three total scores, went straight up the gut for a 1-yard touchdown to break the scoreless tie and open the floodgates in Charleston's favor.
"He's kind of an elusive back the way he runs," Blackman said about Kellum. "He did some things well.
"The momentum went with us the entire second half."
During their next possession, Kellum lit up the visitor's section with an 85-yard gallop into the endzone giving Charleston a two touchdown advantage.
As time was winding down in the third quarter, Charleston quarterback Jamaul Gray found a seemingly wide open Krushon Scott for a 72-yard pitch and catch. Scott was finally chased down at NMCC's 5-yard line.
Beginning the fourth quarter, Kellum tacked on his third score of the night from two yards away to put his Bluejay's up 19-0.
Scott continued to beat the NMCC defense later in the quarter, as his quarterback found him again behind the Eagles' defense for a 50-yard touchdown pass.
"We had opportunities to move the football," said Pixley. "We controlled them well. But, We're leaving our defense out there too long. We had some third down situations and couldn't get off the field."
Trying desperately to break their scoreless streak, NMCC went to the air.
Twice, however, Charleston junior defensive back Mike Hull swiped passes away from the Eagles.
Once, Hull took it to the house for a 67-yard interception return to make it the final of 33-0.
"He's been one that's been injured for a few weeks," Blackman said about Hull. "He played well last week and came back and made some plays for us. We wasn't sure if we were going to have him tonight, but he told me he wanted to go.
"He stepped up and made some plays for us."
Gray finished with 126 passing yards on just three completions. Scott caught two of Gray's passes for 122 yards.
For NMCC, Stanley Smith led with 65 yards rushing.
"He's a kid that runs hard and can get it done for us," Pixley said about Smith, who had most of his team-leading 14 carries in the first half.
The Eagles were out-gained 170 to 381 as far as yardage. NMCC couldn't seem to convert during important third and fourth down situations while also struggling with untimely penalties.
"We're our own worst enemy right now," said Pixley. "Too many mental mistakes that has to be cleaned up in the flow of the game. Too many missed assignments on offense -- we're just not very good right now.
"We're working hard, though. The kids are enjoying working hard and we'd obviously like the result to be better and it's just not right now."
C -- Mike Kellum 1 run, 8:23 (kick failed)
C -- Mike Kellum 85 run, 5:20 (2-point failed)
C -- Mike Kellum 2 run, 11:13 (Krushon Scott kick)
C -- Jamaul Gray 50 pass to Krushon Scott, 7:00 (Krushon Scott kick)
C -- Mike Hull 62 interception return, 2:46 (Krushon Scott kick)
Charleston -- Rontavious Clark 11-88, Jamaul Gray 7-14, Deiontrail Winston 1-0, Mike Kellum 11-153. NMCC -- Jayshawn McDaniel 3-7, Corey Guest 12-(-1), Jimmy Ash 3-14, Willie Jimmerson 2-(-8), Stanley Smith 14-65, Mikeal Walker 1-5, Shermon Taylor 4-10, Lorenzo Hill 1-14.
Charleston -- Jamaul Gray 3-6-0 126. NMCC -- Jimmy Ash 3-6-1 31, Corey Guest 2-7-1 33.
Charleston -- Deiontrail Winston 1-4, Krushon Scott 2-122. NMCC -- Jimmy Caldwell 1-6, Shermon Taylor 1-13, Willie Jimmerson 1-20, Gabe Smith 2-25.