(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
MALDEN -- Led by junior running back Robert Bogan's 243 yard performance, the Charleston Bluejays fended off a late Malden push on Wednesday to secure a trip to the Class 2, District 1 championship game.
Besides averaging 14.3 yards on 17 carries, Bogan provided both the Bluejays' fourth quarter touchdowns that cemented a 50-30 win after nearly watching the Green Wave come back to tie.
"Robert knew he had a lot to prove this game," Charleston head coach Brett Blackman said. "I think he's a pretty dang good back, but a lot of people don't. I think he showed it tonight.
"The kid is a hard runner, but the thing you don't see about him is he's on the other side of the ball playing defense and on special teams as well, so the kid doesn't come off the field. I'm really proud of the determination and effort he showed tonight."
Already holding a 36-30 edge early in the fourth quarter, the Bluejays looked ready to go up two scores when they marched down to Malden's five-yard line only to see a fumble on the goal line recovered by the Green Wave in the end zone.
Taking advantage of their new lease on life, Malden was able to drive in to Charleston territory and appeared to tie things up on a 31-yard touchdown run by Romello McCoy.
Unfortunately for the Green Wave, a holding penalty called back the score and the Bluejays eventually took over on downs. Just two plays into the drive, Bogan scored from 76 yards out to put Charleston up 42-30 with 6:17 to play.
"You bust your tail to get a great drive and punch it in and 10 seconds later it's all for not," Malden head coach Joel Wyatt said. We thought we tied it up, but we had one of our what felt like six holding penalties on one of our receivers.
"Thought it was going to be a tied ball game, then they stop us and go down and score."
With one last chance to pull back to within a touchdown of the Bluejays, Malden's next drive was short lived as the Bluejays' defense made one final stop.
Green Wave quarterback Chapin Riley took a high snap from the center and before he could regain his composure, Charleston lineman Darrion Carter put a hit on Riley that knocked the ball loose and to the ground.
Charleston recovered the fumble to once again control the clock. Heading back on offense, the Bluejays' burned nearly four minutes off the clock before Bogan scored from four-yards out with 1:49 to play making up the final after the two-point conversion.
"They rose up and made some big plays there," Blackman said of defense. "Darrion Carter had that big hit there, which kind of changed the tide there with about four minutes left in the game.
"That was real big, it kind of sealed the win for us. That was the play we had been looking for all night. The game changer."
Besides a strong night on offense, Charleston got a huge boost from the special team efforts of Sumner Foster. Handling six kickoffs, Foster collected a total of 218 return yards while scoring twice.
Both of Foster's touchdowns came in critical moments in the game and served to demoralize the Green Wave.
Having just gone up 18-14 with 9:28 left in the second quarter, Malden once again found themselves in a hole when he took the ensuing kick back 79 yards for a touchdown.
His final score came after the Green Wave had just closed to within six-points, at 30-24, with 5:01 to go in the third quarter.
Foster answered with a 74-yard run to put the Bluejays up 36-24.
"He isn't the fastest kid on our team," Blackman said of Foster. "But he has that long stride and he covers a lot of ground pretty quick. You take those 12 points off the board, that's big."
Added Charleston senior Cole Byford, "We just made big plays on special teams and capitalize on their mistakes and just really took it to them."
Charleston finished with 449 total yards of offense to edge past Malden, who finished with 432 yards.
Behind Bogan's big night, Charleston was aided by 73 yards from Deiontrail Winston on 11 carries while Rontavious Clark pitched in another 63 yards on 10 carries.
Leading the Green Wave, McCoy finished with 211 yards and two touchdowns on 33 touches.
Though the Bluejays were never able to shut down McCoy, they limited his second half production to 63 yards and a score.
"We could have done better in the first half," Charleston's Mike Hull said. "But in the second half we proved we're a better defensive team than what they expected us to be."
With the win, the Bluejays will now travel to Caruthersville on Monday to face the Tigers for the district championship at 7 p.m.
In the two teams regular season matchup, it was Caruthersville coming out on top 34-12.
C -- Robert Bogan 5 run (Rontavious Clark run bad), 9:52
M -- Romello McCoy 44 run (Romello McCoy run bad), 9:23
M -- Mitchell Coleman 20 run (Romello McCoy bad), 3:25
C -- Rontavious Clark 2 run (Sumner Foster pass from Mike Hull good), 11:55
M -- Romello McCoy 1 run (Mitchell Coleman pass from Chapin Riley bad), 9:28
C -- Sumner Foster 79 kickoff return (Rontavious Clark run good), 9:14
C -- Robert Bogan 72 run good (Deiontrail Winston run good), 3:29
M -- Mitchell Coleman 9 pass from Chapin Riley (Romello McCoy run bad), 5:01
C -- Sumner Foster 74 kickoff return (Deiontrail Winston run bad), 4:47
M -- Nick Thompson 4 run (Nick Thompson pass from Chapin Riler bad), 1:24
C -- Robert Bogan 76 run (Rontavious Clark pass from Mike Hull bad), 6:17
C -- Robert Bogan 4 run (Mike Hull run good), 1:49
Rushing -- Charleston, Robert Bogan 17-243, Deiontrail Winston 11-73, Rontavious Clark 10-67, Mike Hull 3-(-6), Demontrail Clark 2-6. Malden, Romello McCoy 33-211, Nick Thompson 12-70, Gunner Jones 3-2, Mitchell Coleman 2-61, Dremond Robinson 1-(-6), Chapin Riley 1-(-8).
Passing -- Charleston, Mike Hull 2-6-0 66. Malden, Chapin Riley 6-8-0 102.
Receiving -- Charleston, Sumner Foster 1-48, Darrion Carter 1-18. Malden, Dajuan Crigler 5-93, Mitchell Coleman 1-9.