(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
ST. LOUIS -- Senior Nick Nichols seemed to be in the backfield on nearly every play.
Sikeston's defensive end single-handedly dominated Farmington's offensive line hitting their tailback behind the line of scrimmage, sacking and hurrying the quarterback which led a bad offensive day for the Knights.
"I just go hard every play," Nichols said. "
Nichols led the Sikeston Bulldogs with 12 tackles and made the biggest impact in holding Farmington to 196 total yards and a 36-6 Sikeston win Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis as part of the Great American Football Classic.
"We knew coming into the season we were counting on Nick to be a starter for us," Sikeston head coach Kent Gibbs said. "We knew that if he came in and did what he needed to do, he would have a great year. He's had some good games and he's still not where we want him to be."
Nichols completely rendered Farmington's running game useless tallying five tackles for a loss and two sacks. He also recovered a fumble.
The Knights were held to 17 yards on the ground for a per carry average of 0.7.
"He's a very good athlete," Farmington head coach Todd Vaughn said about Nichols. "He's extremely fast. He played really hard and in my opinion he was their MVP. We knew pass blocking would be an issue at times. We thought we might be able to run away from him and read him and we couldn't do that. We thought maybe we could counter and kick him out and we couldn't do that. He disrupted a lot of what we wanted to do in run and pass."
Nichols was awarded Sikeston's Player of the Game presented by the GAFC.
"I'm glad to get this medal right here," Nichols said, looking down at his Player of the Game piece he was given. "All the credit goes to the coaches though. They taught me everything I know. I just go hard -- that Bulldog pride."
The 6-4, 195-pound senior did all of that while battling a hip pointer injury that has limited his time on the practice field to some degree.
"It still hurts," Nichols said, "but I'm a Bulldog. I just have to go through the pain and keep playing for my team."
Just as dynamic was cornerback Aundrea Golden.
Golden recovered a fumble for a touchdown, picked off two passes and went all the way to the house for a 50-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.
"I seen when (Nick) hit the quarterback on the first (interception). I saw the ball in the air so I just took advantage of it."
Golden was every bit of opportunistic. On top of his interception return, Golden added a fumble recovery for a 32-yard touchdown.
He ended up with 8 tackles, one tackle for a loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, two interceptions and two defensive scores.
"The thing that he did is that he put himself in position to make plays," Gibbs said about Golden. "When he put himself there, he made those plays. Sometimes guys will put themselves in that position, but when it comes time to make that pick, big hit or tackle they just can't do it. Today, Aundrea showed that he can certainly do that.
Middle linebacker Blake Flannigan also added nine tackles with two tackles for a loss and one sack. Markieth Bratcher hit the ball carrier three times in the backfield and chipped in one sack as well.
"They stopped (Farmington) dead in their tracks pretty much the whole game," Gibbs said. "When you get pick sixes for touchdowns and great field position that certainly takes pressure off your offense. Our defense has played that way all year long.
"They've kind of carried us and we're good with that."
Sikeston, who are currently ranked sixth in in Class 4, forced six turnovers, four punts and didn't allow the Knights to cross the goal line until the game was firmly in hand in the fourth quarter.
"That's our team," Nichols said. "Our team is defense. That's all we know."