Resurgent NMCC football team explodes for 68-38 win over East Prairie
NEW MADRID, Mo – If the past few weeks are any indication the lean years are over for the New Madrid County Central Eagles.
After three-straight one-win seasons, NMCC is 2-0 to start the season for the first time since 2009 and playing in front of a full house.
Against East Prairie Friday night, NMCC let their defense set the tone with four first-half turnovers to help down the visiting Eagles 68-38, their biggest offensive performance since 2014.
“There is a lot of tradition at this school,” NMCC head coach Tyler Fullhart said, who’s entering his third year with the program. “A lot of tradition and success in the past. I think we got to a point where it was difficult for awhile and we just had to figure out how to get it back.
“Right now we have a group of guys that really want to get it back and write their own story. That’s what they’re doing. I’m proud of them.”
Fullhart wanted his guys to send a message early and it took only two plays into East Prairie’s game-opening possession for his defense to deliver it.
A Carson Aycock pass went off a defenders hands and bounced off his foot before being collected by NMCC defender Johnnie Walker, who took it back 38-yards for a pick-six.
Christen Phillips ran in the two-point conversion to give NMCC an 8-0 lead just 17 seconds into the game.
NMCC picked off Aycock two more times and forced a fumbled to win the turnover battle 4-0 in the first half
“One of the goals we set for the guys coming out for the game was to get a score on defense,” Fullhart said. “I challenged them to get a score on defense. I wasn’t expecting it to be that early. They were able to do that.
“Momentum is such a big key in the game and we were able to grab that right off the git.”
On top of his defense score, Walker added two more touchdown as a receiver with him and quarterback Christen Phillips connected three times for 139 yards.
Phillips went 6 for 10 overall with 192 yards and three scores to one interception.
Phillips helped NMCC’s ground game total 251 yards compared to East Prairie 56 yard performance. He rushed eight times for 80 yards and two scores.
Quazavion Jackson led all backs with 96 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
As a team NMCC rushed 36 times to amass 251 yards to average nearly seven yards-per-carry.
After East Prairie (1-1) came back to match NMCC, 8-8, on their second drive it was the home team that started to pull away.
NMCC (2-0) built a 32-16 lead heading into the second quarter ands were up 60-24 heading into the locker room at halftime.
Though NMCC narrowly out-gained East Prairie 443-442 on the game in total yards, they had a 338-204 lead in yardage at the half.
East Prairie did most their damage in the air with Aycock going 16 of 33 for 386 yards and five scores, but was picked off three times.
Derez Tipler was a favorite target, catching six passes for 151 yards and two scores while Keaton Adams collected five passes for 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
On the ground East Prairie was held to 56 yards on 22 attempts.
“When you take one aspect of our game away it makes us have to do one things,” East Prairie head coach Chad Jamerson said. “Credit to NMCC, they took the run game away tonight.”
On his teams turnovers problems, Jamerson added, “We knew coming in to the week turnovers would be a problem. We knew that (Austin Davis, Walker and Phillips) were excellent athletes and if we didn’t take care of the ball better than last week that it would be a problem.
“When you have turnovers you put yourself in a bad position.”
NMCC is already guaranteed their best record since 2014 when they 4-6.
Fullhart credits a group of upperclassmen with helping to change the tone for his program.
“I can’t say enough about Christen (guiding the offense),” Fullhart said. “There’s been some ups and downs with him, some growing pains. He got hurt at the end of the season, but he’s put in the time, the work and led the team. He does everything you want your quarterback to do.
“It’s not only him. It’s a good group of guys like Austin Davis and Johnnie Walker, Bryshawn Williams, Seth Purser, Dee Moore and Jay Malbia. Those guys have really taking over leadership. That’s what we were lacking for so long.”
With two district wins already under their belt NMCC now sets their site on their first SEMO Conference opponent when they host Dexter Friday.
The Bearcats will be coming off a 28-20 home-win over Salem.
“Coach (Aaron) Pixley is back at the helm,” Fullhart said. “He’s a fantastic coach so I know they’ll be physical, prepared and have a great game plan ready to go. I plan on matching it.”
N – Johnnie Walker 38 interception return (Christen Phillips run good), 11:43
E – Keaton Adams 20 pass from Carson Aycock (Jack Scruggs pass from Carson Aycock good), 8:43
N – Christen Phillips 59 run (Quazavion Jackson run good), 7:53
N – Quazavion Jackson 5 run (Mark Underwood pass from Christen Phillips good), 4:07
E – Derez Tipler 67 pass from Carson Aycock (Derez Tipler run good), 3:45
N – Christen Phillips 4 run (Christen Phillips run good), 2:20
N – Jay Malbia 4 run (Quazavion Jackson run good), 11:35
E – Derez Tipler 13 pass from Carson Aycock (Derez Tipler pass from Carson Aycock good), 10:38
N – Johnnie Walker 54 pass from Christen Phillips (Christen Phillips run failed), 8:38
N – Quazavion Jackson 12 run (Christen Phillips run good), 6:30
N – Johnnie Walker 64 pass from Christen Phillips (Kylan Minner run failed), 0:00
E – Keaton Adams 58 pass from Carson Aycock (Carson Aycock run good), 4:40
N – Mark Underwood 19 pass from Christen Phillips (Jay Maltbia run good) 2:28
E – Jack Scruggs 28 pass from Carson Aycock (Daniel Miranda kick missed), 8:51
RUSHING – East Prairie, Derez Tipler 5-18, Keaton Adams 4-(-11), Mason Bryars 3-11, Carson Aycock 6-29, Raleigh Archie 1-4, Tyler McCurter 1-2, Mark Bixler 1-(-2), Hayden Ellis 1-5. NMCC, Johnnie Walker 2-(-2), Christen Phillips 8-80, Quazavion Jackson 9-96, Kylan Minner 10-30, Austin Davis 2-31, Bryshawn Williams 1-1, Troquon Mays 3-14, Trey Tipler 1-1.
PASSING – East Prairie, Carson Aycock 16-33-3 386. NMCC, Christen Phillips 6-10-1 192.
RECEIVING – East Prairie, Keaton Adams 5-125, Derez Tipler 6-151, Jack Scruggs 3-75, Mason Bryars 2-35. NMCC, Johnnie Walker 3-139, Bryshawn Williams 1-34, JJ Brown 1-0, Mark Underwood 1-19.