(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
PORTAGEVILLE -- The last time New Madrid County Central and Portageville met on the football field, none of its players were even born.
But that didn't take away from the intensity on the field between the two county rivals on Thursday night at Portageville High school as the two schools played for the first time since 1985.
NMCC made up for the lost time and completely dominated the previously undefeated Bulldogs, 46-0 on senior night.
Everything went right for the Eagles. Nothing went right for Portageville.
"I don't think our kids really understand that magnitude of this," NMCC coach Arlen Pixley said. "I knew whenever I came to New Madrid that there's always something there with Portageville in basketball, similar to what it is with us and Sikeston. It's heated. Our kids know it and they feel it. We liked the fanfare and the atmosphere here."
NMCC (3-6) smothered Portageville's powerful running attack, limiting the Bulldogs to a season-low 64 yards rushing on 41 attempts -- the team finished with just 99 total yards of offense.
The Eagle defense surrounded Portageville's ball carriers all night, limiting top rusher Daniel Allen to just 36 yards on 22 carries. The senior entered the game with 1,188 yards on the season, averaging 169.7 yards per game.
"They've got some backs that are electric and they've got a good offensive line, but we did a good job of getting more penetration this evening," Pixley said. "We went with a little faster guys up front to try to get off the ball a little quicker and it paid off for us."
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Portageville, which was riding an emotional high all season. The Bulldogs came into the game with hopes of recording its first undefeated regular season since 1995, but those dreams were dashed in an emphatic way.
"Terrible," Portageville coach Jeff Bullock said. "It was terrible. We got out-worked, out-coached and we got took to the woodshed."
NMCC not only controlled the Bulldogs (7-1) defensively, but the Eagles' offense came alive as well against a Portageville defense that had allowed just 75 points in its previous seven games.
Everything seemed to work for the Eagles as they posted a season-high in points after entering the game having scored just 95 points all season (11.9 per game).
"That's what happens when you block for each other," Pixley said. "We've kind of struggled in that area all year long. We got a hat on a hat and that's how it's supposed to look in a perfect world."
The Eagles finished with a season-high 403 yards of offense with 361 coming on the ground.
Leading the charge was senior quarterback Jashawn McDaniel, who rushed for 102 yards on 11 carries with a career-high four touchdowns.
"The effort was good," McDaniel said. "We had everybody into it. It's a rivalry with Portageville and New Madrid. We got a story that coach told us a long time ago when they played and everybody just got fired up."
Also having a big game for the Eagles was sophomore running back Mikeal Walker, who had 101 yards on eight carries.
After witnessing Class 1 power and district foe Valle hammer NMCC 40-0 two weeks ago, Bullock was hoping his team could gain some respect and show it is ready to compete on a larger scale as well.
But Thursday indicated that the Bulldogs are still a work in progress against larger schools.
"I don't want to discredit what they did against a smaller school, they're a good quality team and they've been beat by a lot of good teams," Bullock said of NMCC. "It was just poor tackling. It's not anything we haven't seen all year. They have some really good athletes and we knew that. But also when you get to a spot, you've got to wrap up. They ran the ball hard and they ran angry, which is kind of what we've done all year. We got beat with what it is we do."
Portageville did not help themselves either, turning the ball over three times.
The Bulldogs started the game with a fumble on its fifth play, setting up the Eagles with excellent field position at the Portageville 25.
McDaniel scored his first touchdown on a sneak on 4th-and-goal at the 1 with 8:13 left in the first quarter to lead 7-0.
After forcing a Portageville punt on the ensuing drive, McDaniel scored on a 20-yard run to extend the Eagles' lead to 13-0 with 25 seconds left in the first quarter.
After another punt, NMCC's Stanley Smith capped a 7-play, 82-yard drive with a 5-yard run to push the lead to 19-0 with 8:30 left in the half.
Portageville's best chance of scoring came on the next drive as they used up six minutes of clock and ran 13 plays before stalling out at the NMCC 15-yard line.
The Bulldogs never had another legitimate chance to score again.
"All year long we've played well on defense in spots," Pixley said. "We gave our offense a chance with some good field position and we made good things happen."
McDaniel tacked on two more touchdown runs in the second half, scoring on a 2-yard run on the Eagles' opening drive of the third quarter and a 63-yard run later in the third quarter.
In between his two scores was a 9-yard fumble return by Damien Glispie when the shotgun snap rolled past the Portageville quarterback. Glispie easily scooped and scored the fumble.
Backup quarterback Austin Lynn scored on a 21-yard run with 2:35 left in the game to reach the final margin.
"They took away what we did best," Bullock said. "They put us in positions where we were trying to do things we're not comfortable doing. Now did we do things to help? Yeah, we did a lot of things to help them out. It was just a frustrating night and I'm glad it's over."
The Bulldogs tried numerous things to try to get some offense going, including running a "wildcat" formation with running back Dominique Walker taking snaps. When the Bulldogs tried to throw the ball, the Eagles' defensive pressure caused even more problems.
"(Passing is) not our favorite thing to do," Bullock said. "There were a couple times we didn't do a very good job of picking up the blitz. I mean they were jailhousin' us every time. We tried different formations, we tried different blocking schemes, and it was just like they were a step ahead of everything we did tonight. Sometimes you just wrap it up and say they just beat us."
It has been a long, hard road for Portageville football, which hit rock bottom with a 32-game losing streak from 2005-09 and have not had a winning season since 2003 when Hall of Fame coach Jim McKay was at the helm.
But the team's renaissance this season has lifted the spirits in Portageville. Despite Thursday's disappointment, the Bulldogs still are guaranteed at least two district games at home, and possibly a third pending tonight's results.
"We don't let our kids sit and dwell on it," Bullock said. "We're going to put this game behind us and we're going to move on. That's the good thing about the situation we're in now. We're in the playoffs, we don't have to sit and dwell on it very long. We can just get up and look forward. Hopefully we can get excited again with the playoffs coming up and hopefully be the No. 1 seed in this deal."
For NMCC, Thursday's win probably won't change its place in the district standings as all indications show the Eagles will travel to Potosi to open district play next week. But Pixley feels a little bit better knowing his team will have some momentum heading into district.
"It's big because we finally got some things we can build some confidence on," Pixley said. "We take that into next week with a lot of confidence and that's what we've been needing. Our kids made a commitment this week, start playing a little bit harder for each other. We didn't do that very well last week, we called them out on it, and they responded well tonight."
N -- Jashawn McDaniel 1 run (Adam Cooksey kick), 8:13
N -- McDaniel 20 run (kick failed), 0:25
N -- Stanley Smith 5 run (run failed), 8:30
N -- McDaniel 2 run (run failed), 9:24
N -- Damien Glispie 9 fumble return (Cookson kick), 5:30
N -- McDaniel 63 run (Cookson kick), 1:40
N -- Austin Lynn 21 run (Cookson kick), 2:35
RUSHING -- NMCC, Jashawn McDaniel 11-102, Mikeal Walker 8-101, Corey Guest 4-42, Daniel McRay 2-23, Austin Lynn 2-22, Stanley Smith 2-21, T.J. Clark 3-20, Larry McIntosh 2-17, Rhiley Smith 3-15, Team 2-(minus 2). Portageville, Daniel Allen 22-36, Denzell Simmons 5-26, Dominique Walker 6-18, Landon Delisle 2-9, Team 2-(minus 4), Bryce Wallace 4-(minus 21).
PASSING -- NMCC, Jashawn McDaniel 2-3-0 42. Portageville, Bryce Wallace 3-10-0 35, Dominique Walker 0-1-0 0, Denzell Simmons 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING -- NMCC -- Devon Harrell 2-42. Portageville, Dominique Walker 1-19, Ben Story 2-16, Hunter Cook 1-1.