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Tigers debut with 24-6 road victory

Saturday, September 6, 2003

ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- Cape Girardeau Central rode a dominating defensive performance and two touchdowns by Brandon Twiggs to a 24-6 season-opening football victory Friday night over host St. Charles West.

Twiggs scored on a 2-yard run and a 44-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Craft, Kyle Schuessler returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown and Colin Schermann added a 26-yard field goal.

Central's defense had a shutout going until the final minutes and forced five turnovers, including two interceptions by Schuessler. Twiggs, Craft and Mikell Abraham all recovered fumbles.

Unofficially, the Tigers had 391 yards of offense. Craft completed 13 of 26 passes for 226 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was also Central's leading rusher with 69 yards on 16 carries.

Mark Dunaway caught five passes for 88 yards and Twiggs had four receptions for 95 yards.

Central rushed for 165 yards. Marcus Rice gained 36 yards on six attempts, Gabe Edwards had 29 yards on three carries and Twiggs added 25 yards on five attempts.

The Tigers grabbed an early lead. After SCW received the opening kickoff and could not move, the Tigers drove 72 yards to a touchdown. Twiggs scored on a 2-yard run and Schermann kicked the extra point for a 7-0 advantage with 7:44 left in the first quarter.

Central twice converted third-down plays on its opening touchdown drive, with Craft firing completions of 28 yards to Will Johnson and 24 yards to Twiggs. Edwards' 20-yard run moved the ball to the 2, and Twiggs scored on the next play.

SCW then had its best scoring chance of the first half inside Central's 25-yard line, but Twiggs recovered a fumble.

Late in the opening half, Schuessler intercepted a pass at the SCW 40-yard line, which led to Craft's 16-yard touchdown run -- but it was wiped out by a penalty.

The drive later ended when Craft was intercepted, but a few plays later Abraham recovered a fumble at the SCW 15-yard line. That led by Schermann's 26-yard field goal with 6:28 left before halftime, making it 10-0.

Central had a golden opportunity to pad its lead before the intermission, but the Tigers were stopped twice on runs from inside the 1-yard line as the half ended, leaving the score 10-0.

But the Tigers scored in less than two minutes after receiving the second-half kickoff. A 30-yard pass from Craft to Dunaway led to Craft's 44-yard TD strike to Twiggs, who took a short pass and did the rest. Schermann's PAT made it 17-0 with 10:11 remaining in the third quarter.

Schuessler's 27-yard interception return and Schermann's PAT midway through the final period put the Tigers up 24-0.

The Warriors finally ended Central's shutout bid when Hemal Patel scored on an 18-yard run with 3:16 remaining.

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