(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
DEXTER -- Making good on a pair of first half touchdowns, the Charleston Bluejays fought through a cold, rain-soaked night to pick up their first win against the Dexter Bearcats since 2001.
Dexter answered with a score of their own in the third, but their final drive of the night stalled near the Charleston's 33 yard line the Bluejays were able to seal a 16-8 win.
"In these conditions like this as cold as it is and as sloppy as it was a win's a win," Charleston head coach Brett Blackman said. "We'll take it, head home and get ready for East Prairie."
While both teams struggled in the wet, muddy conditions, the effects on Charleston were particularly noticeable as they tried to put some space between themselves and Dexter early in the first half.
Having already taken an 8-0 lead when Deontrail Winston capped their opening drive with a 16-yard run, Charleston found themselves with the ball inside of the Dexter 20-yard line on each their next two drives.
Both drives, however, ended prematurely when a fumble near the line of scrimmage put the ball back in to the Bearcats' hands.
In each instance Charleston was able to keep Dexter off the scoreboard and finally found the end zone for an insurance touchdown when Rontavious Clark broke off a 45-yard run with 3:37 left in the half.
Bluejays' quarterback Michael Hull then connected with Sumner Foster on the two-point conversion to give their team a 16-0 edge heading into the locker room.
"We had five fumbles (on the night)," Blackman said. "Unfortunately they were moments where we were driving and could have really stuck Dexter in a bad position there early on, but on three consecutive series we fumbled the football.
"We could have really separated ourselves and got the 13-point spread, but things happen and you try to have contingencies for games like this."
After struggling through the first half, the Bearcats' offense seemed to find a little traction in the third quarter and broke up the shutout with four seconds left in the frame.
Capping a 65-yard drive, Dexter quarterback DJ Dowdy connected with Chase Young up the right sideline for a 19-yard score. Brad Wick went on to convert on the two-point attempt to make it a one score game going into the fourth.
With momentum in hand Dexter came back and converted on an ensuing onside kick, but turned the ball over when Charleston stopped them on fourth-and-one.
It wasn't until after Charleston had milked nearly five minutes off the clock, driving to Dexter's 40-yard line, that Chase Young gave the Bearcats one last chance when intercepted a Hull pass.
Taking over with 5:45 left the Bearcats proceeded to get a 14-yard pass from Dowdy to Ethan Stevens and a nine-yard run from Wick as they worked their way to Charleston's 27-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Bearcats just when it looked like Dexter might force overtime, a holding penalty, followed by a negative-yardage pass play that set up 3rd-and-23.
Dowdy scrambled on third down to get eight yards back, but on fourth-and-14 a pass near the goal line was broken up.
Taking over downs Charleston set up in victory formation to ice the win.
"We had a holding penalty right there and few negative plays," Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley said. "It's kind of been the story of our season. We'll get a great play and get into second and short, then we'll get a negative play.
"Now you're going into third and long, which makes it more difficult. So we've been in a lot of situations this year where we have to pass instead of situation where we can pass anytime we want to."
Though they may have given up 307 yards to the Bluejays, Young's interception was one of several big plays by the Bearcats' defense that kept them in the game. One of the biggest was when Charleston got in to Dexter's red zone with only seconds left in the first half.
Hull had completed back-to-back passes to Darrion Carter and Winston for a total of 28 yards to put the Bluejays at Dexter's four-yard line. On what appeared to be the last play of the half Robert Bogan was wrapped up on a run at the one-yard line, but Charleston got in a quick timeout with one second left on the clock.
Dexter was able to stuff one final run to go into the half only down by two scores.
"I felt like our defense was kind of down (early)," Pixley said. "I was worried Charleston was going to score with one second left (in the first half). I thought the clock went out, but apparently they called a timeout.
"For them to get that stop right there was big. So being down 16-0 at halftime I felt like we were fortunate because we still had a shot. We came out and gave it a good effort, we just came up short. We have to stick together and not give up."
On a night where the Bluejays gained 279 yards on the ground, Bogan led the way with 115 yards on 16 carries for 7.2 yard-per-carry average. Winston had 76 yards on 11 carries and Clark rushed nine times for 71.
For Dexter, Wick led the ground attack with 50 yards on 16 carries with Dowdy carrying 13 times for 3 yards. Dowdy went 7 for 14 through the air for 64 yards and a touchdown.
C -- Deiontrail Winston 18 run (Robert Bogan run), 9:18
C -- Rontavious Clark 45 run (Michael Hull to Sumner Foster), 3:37
D -- Chase Young 19 pass from DJ Dowdy (Brad Wick run), 0:04
|Time of Possession||21:03||26:57|
RUSHING -- Charleston, Robert Bogan 16-115, Deiontrail Winston 11-76, Rontavious Clark 9-71, Michael Hull 5-17. Dexter, Brad Wick 16-50, DJ Dowdy 13-33, Ryan Joyner 8-29, Chase Young 5-0, Jonathan Foels 4-12.
PASSING -- Charleston, Michael Hull 2-4-1. Dexter, DJ Dowdy 7-14-0.
RECEIVING -- Charleston, Deiontrail Winston 1-9, Darrion Carter 1-19. Dexter, Chase Young 2-28, Jonathan Page 2-26, Ethan Stevens 1-14, Jonathan Foels 1-0, Austin Aldridge 1-(-4).