Sikeston football team slips past rival Charleston in overtime
SIKESTON — The historic Sikeston-Charleston football rivalry has lost some of its luster in recent years after a string of blowout victories and just sheer dominance by the Bulldogs over the Bluejays.
There was even some discussion a few years back of ending the series, which is considered the longest ongoing rivalry west of the Mississippi River in terms of number of games played.
However, Charleston entered this season with renewed hope, a roster filled with talented athletes, and a belief that they could finally knock off the Bulldogs in Friday night’s season opener at Sikeston Public Schools Stadium.
Sikeston kept its winning streak against Charleston alive, but just barely, as it took an acrobatic overtime touchdown reception by Ricky Scott to pull out a 32-26 victory in the 132nd meeting between the two schools.
“Anytime you win on Friday night that’s a good thing,” Sikeston coach Kent Gibbs said. “We’re happy and we know we’re extremely lucky to come out with a win. We made a couple big plays when we needed to make some big plays. We’ll take what we did and look at it on film and hopefully get a little bit better as we go.”
For Charleston coach Brett Blackman, it was a step in the right direction for his program despite the heartbreaking loss.
“The game boiled down to one play there,” said Blackman, now in his eighth year at Charleston. “I think we got a lot of positives coming out of this game. Nobody thought that we could even be in it. For our size and what we’ve been through the last three years, this is a big deal. I’m proud of our kids. They went up two scores us on us and we battled back and we haven’t done that before. I’m super proud of them.”
Charleston rallied from a 26-12 halftime deficit to force overtime.
High school overtime rules give each team one possession of the football with an opportunity to score from the opponent’s 25-yard line.
Charleston had possession first, but on its second play Sikeston senior lineman Quincy Chinwuko intercepted Lee Thomas Moody’s pass to end the possession.
“We tell our guys all the time that it’s all about making plays,” Gibbs said. “All things being equal, at some point in time good players make big plays and Quincy came up with a big play at a crucial time.”
After a two-yard run by Matthew Perry on Sikeston’s possession, quarterback Nate Self lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone. Scott was covered by the Bluejay defender, but the 6-foot-3 junior out-leaped his opponent to secure the reception for the 23-yard touchdown.
“I thought our kid had good coverage and he did what he could,” Blackman said. “Unfortunately he’s probably taller than him by a foot. He hustled his [butt] off and made a play there.”
Scott, who also had a similar touchdown reception in the second quarter, said once the ball was in the air his instincts took over.
“I’m just thinking go get the ball,” Scott said. “Like what coach [Corey Adkisson] tells me all the time, he’s like ‘when the ball’s in the air it’s your ball’ and that’s all I was thinking. I just had to do something for my teammates. We’ve been working hard for four months and we just had to come up with this win. I kept telling my teammates that ‘we are not going to lose this game. We are not going to lose this game.’ I just had to make a play and come down with something. That was a big play for us and I’m excited for what I did.”
There was a penalty flag thrown on the play, but once it was determined to be a pass interference call against Charleston, the Bulldog celebration was on as the players stormed the field and mobbed Scott near the 20-yard line.
Gibbs said those kind of “jump-ball passes” are plays that Scott has a knack for that he also showed in his breakout season last year as a sophomore.
“Ricky’s a great athlete and he did a good job of going up and getting that ball,” Gibbs said. “That’s one thing that we’ve been talking to him a lot about. He’s got to own those balls when they go up like that and use his leverage and use his big hands and come down with those kind of balls.”
Charleston showed early in the game that it was up to the challenge and ready to erase the memory of a 52-0 loss to the Bulldogs last season.
Both teams played a 12-12 tie, but Sikeston finished the half strong with Scott’s 25-yard touchdown catch with 1:12 left in the first half.
On Charleston’s ensuing possession with just seconds left on the clock, Sikeston senior Bryce Bays intercepted a long pass and returned it 62 yards for the touchdown as the clock expired to give the Bulldogs a 26-12 halftime lead.
“I thought Bryce Bays showed a lot of guts right there at halftime when he got that interception and ran it all the way back,” Gibbs said. “As good as that was, the other thing I liked about it was once he got down to about the 10-yard line there were five, six, seven red shirts down there with him trying to help him get him. That was a huge play. If we don’t get that play right before the half then we don’t win the ballgame.”
Charleston answered in the second half to tie the game on a 60-yard run by Tyrese Tate and a 45-yard touchdown reception by Jeremy Tucker.
The Bluejay defense also tossed a shutout against the Bulldog offense in the third and fourth quarters, forcing one punt and stopping Sikeston three times on downs to set up the overtime excitement.
One of Charleston’s top weapons this year is junior running back Q’nairies Anderson, a state champion track and field sprinter last spring who showed that he could have a monster year on the gridiron as well.
The 6-1, 180-pound Anderson rushed for 175 yards on 31 carries with a touchdown.
“He’s learning and coming into his own,” Blackman said. “We’ve just got to get some second level blocking for him and he’s going to be okay. The kid’s developing, he’s just a junior and he did some big things tonight that could lead him into a good season.”
Sikeston entered the season with new faces and first-year starters at several key positions, including quarterback and running back, but after Friday’s performance there is optimism in the Bulldog camp.
Self, who missed most of last season with an eye injury, showed good game management and poise down the stretch. The 6-2, 190-pound junior threw for 153 yards, completing 10 of 23 passes with two touchdowns. He also rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown.
“Nate kind of bounced back there at the end because he didn’t have a real good start throwing the football but he got better as the game went on,” Gibbs said. “We had way too many drops from receivers that we’ve got to clean up. The other thing is he had time to set his feet and throw the ball so our offensive line did a good job of protecting.”
Also stepping up with a big game was Perry, who showed to be more than reliable as the team’s primary ball carrier Friday night.
The 5-8, 183-pound senior rushed for 162 yards on 20 carries.
“Matthew looked really good,” Gibbs said. “The thing that he does is he runs hard. He’s not going to be flashy. He’s not the fastest guy. But most of the time it’s going to take more than one guy to bring him down. He does a great job of keeping his feet moving. And the other thing he does a good job is he goes north and south in a big way and I think when you do that you’re going to get some yards. I’m really encouraged with the way Matthew played.”
The win marked Sikeston’s 11th straight over the Bluejays, all since Gibbs took over the Sikeston program in 2007.
Sikeston has also won 18 of the last 21 meetings with Charleston and leads the all-time series 94-34-4.
Sikeston will travel to Kennett on Friday at 7 p.m. Charleston will host Hayti on Friday at 7 p.m.
S — Nate Self 1 run (kick failed), 6:26
C — Kavion Thompson 28 pass from Lee Thomas Moody (kick failed), 9:36
S — Austin Branch 3 run (run failed), 3:56
C — Q’nairies Anderson 45 run (run failed), 3:16
S — Ricky Scott 25 pass from Nate Self (Bryce Bays kick), 1:12
S — Bays 62 interception return (Bays kick), 0:00
C — Tyrese Tate 60 run (pass failed), 9:31
C — Jeremy Tucker 45 pass from Moody (Anderson run), 3:17
S — Scott 23 pass from Self, 0:00
RUSHING — Charleston, Q’nairies Anderson 31-175, Tyrese Tate 2-88, James Durden 3-12, Deontia Fisher 1-0, Lee Thomas Moody 4-(-28). Sikeston, Matthew Perry 20-162, Nate Self 12-42, Lorandis Phillips 9-26, BJ Hill 3-16, Austin Branch 2-11, Don Larry 2-6.
PASSING — Charleston, Lee Thomas Moody 9-18-2 139. Sikeston, Nate Self 10-23-0 153.
RECEIVING — Charleston, Tyrese Tate 2-55, Jeremy Tucker 2-50, Kavion Thompson 3-35, Demarcus Sharp 1-2, Q’nairies Anderson 1-(-3). Sikeston, Ricky Scott 3-56, BJ Hill 2-56, Bryce Bays 2-24, Austin Branch 1-7, Hayden Alcorn 1-7, Lorandis Phillips 1-3.