JACKSON -- In the first quarter on Friday night against Jackson, the Sikeston Bulldogs played perhaps their best football that they've played all season.
The Bulldogs exploded for 21 points to open the game and it was more than enough to propel them to their fourth straight victory, defeating the Indians 35-9.
It's Sikeston's first victory on Jackson's home field since 2002 and it's the Bulldogs' third straight overall against the Indians.
While Sikeston (4-1) was sharp to start the game, the rest of the night was a bit spotty for the Bulldogs.
"You look at what we did in the first quarter, there wasn't a whole lot going wrong for the Bulldogs that's for sure," Sikeston coach Kent Gibbs said. "It's hard to know what goes through your kids' minds -- if we lost focus or if Jackson just woke and started playing better."
The Bulldogs came out on fire, scoring on their opening possession on a 36-yard run by Kyland Gross to cap a 7-play, 73-yard drive with 9:34 left in the first.
After forcing a three-and-out, Sikeston scored on its first play of the ensuing drive with David Foster hitting Keldon Warfield over the middle for a 36-yard touchdown pass. Hunter Williams, who was perfect on five extra point attempts, extended the lead to 14-0 at the 7:23 mark.
Following another three-and-out, Sikeston marched 46 yards on six plays with James Watson scoring on a 21-yard run.
In the blink of an eye, Sikeston was leading 21-0 barely nine minutes into the game, stunning the loud and energetic home crowd at Jackson High School.
But just when it appeared that Jackson was on the verge of collapse, the Indians responded with a 15-play scoring drive that covered 63 yards, converting two fourth downs in the process. They scored on quarterback Ty Selsor's 13-yard pass to Stephen Dunn, cutting the Sikeston lead to 21-7 with 8:10 left in the first half.
"We felt like we needed to start the game fast and we certainly did in the first quarter, but then I don't know if we thought we had the game in the bag or what we did," Gibbs said. "But Jackson certainly started playing well and just took it to us and shoved it down our throats and got their score."
Jackson (1-4) kept the momentum with an interception at the Bulldog 9 to get the ball back with an opportunity to make it a one possession ballgame.
But the Bulldog defense stepped up again, forcing another three-and-out. Sikeston's defense forced six three-and-outs in the game.
"Jackson was playing a little bit short-handed and that was tough on them, but we played really well on defense," Gibbs said. "I think one of the things that we've got to overcome is a little bit of that adversity when they're hitting you in the mouth and coming at you. And I think we did. I think we responded. We called a timeout and got their attention and got a turnover. It's a game we can use and evaluate and see what we need to do to keep getting better."
Sikeston scored again 40 seconds before the half on a Gross 6-yard run to lead 28-7 heading into halftime. On the drive, which covered 42 yards in nine plays, Foster, under heavy pressure from the Indian defense, found Aundrea Golden for 10 yards on 4th-and-8 to keep the series alive.
Jackson played the game without starting quarterback Lowgn Wren, who coach Van Hitt described as "unavailable."
His absence certainly contributed to Jackson's struggles in the first quarter in which they were so discombobulated that they burned all three of their timeouts less than six minutes into the game.
The sophomore Selsor, Wren's replacement, was harassed by Sikeston's fast-improving defense all night long, recording several sacks and forcing a fumble.
The second half saw some sloppy play by the Bulldogs, including a poor decision on a punt return that eventually led to Jackson forcing a safety early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 28-9.
Later in the quarter, Sikeston had a 57-yard touchdown pass to Warfield called back due to holding. The drive eventually ended with a fumble inside the Jackson 5-yard line.
"When we didn't have holding calls and things like that, we did a good job of moving the ball," Gibbs said. "We can't have those kind of mistakes and expect to beat people. Hopefully as we get more into the season, we'll get better and better and not have so many dadgum penalties."
Sikeston scored its final touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter with Watson capping a nine-play, 68-yard drive with a 3-yard plunge.
Watson continued his breakout season with another solid performance, rushing for 176 yards on 29 carries with two TD runs.
Gross finished with a season-high 101 yards on 11 carries with a couple touchdown runs.
"We tried to run (Sikeston's) offense in practice this week and it's hard," Hitt said. "They're smooth with it. They're very quick with it and they do an excellent job of running it. We don't have any backs come near what they have to practice against, so they kind of caught us on our heels a few times in the first quarter. They're an excellent football team. They've got tremendous athletes."
Sikeston tallied 406 yards of offense. Foster threw for 119 yards while Warfield caught four passes for 63 yards.
For the second straight week, the Bulldog defense limited its opponent to just one scoring drive. Jackson only managed 113 yards of total offense. Sophomore running back Colten Proffer led the Indians with 82 yards rushing on 18 carries.
The victory also improves Sikeston to 2-0 in the SEMO Conference North Division. Jackson falls to 0-2 in league play.
Sikeston will play at New Madrid County Central next Friday.
S -- Kyland Gross 36 run (Hunter Williams kick), 9:34
S -- Keldon Warfield 36 pass from David Foster (Williams kick), 7:23
S -- James Watson 21 run (Williams kick), 3:15
J -- Stephen Dunn 13 pass from Ty Selsor (Adam Brown kick), 8:10
S -- Gross 6 run (Williams kick), 0:40
J -- Safety, 9:10
S -- Watson 3 run (Williams kick), 11:56
Sikeston -- James Watson 29-176, Kyland Gross 11-101, David Foster 2-18, Aundrea Golden 1-0, Team 2-(-3), Markeith Bratcher 2-(-5). Jackson -- Colten Proffer 18-82, Garrett Miller 8-34, Brannon Wright 1-(-1), Nick Cooper 2-(-1), Ty Selsor 10-(-23).
Sikeston -- David Foster 7-9-1 119. Jackson -- Ty Selsor 4-7-0 22.
Sikeston -- Keldon Warfield 4-63, Markeith Bratcher 1-37, Aundrea Golden 1-10, Kyland Gross 1-9. Jackson -- Stephen Dunn 1-8, Garrett Miller 1-11, Trea Forbs 1-4, Nick Keser 1-(-6).