Indians fall at home to No.1 Mules

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Through five games this season the Jackson Indians football team allowed only one team to gain more than 300 yards of offense.

The Indians gave up 301 yards of offense in the first half alone Friday night and lost a SEMO Conference North battle to Poplar Bluff 28-13 at Jackson.

The loss dropped Jackson to 3-3 and denied the Indians the chance to clinch the SEMO North title. Poplar Bluff, ranked No. 1 in the SEMO Top 10 poll, is 6-0 overall.

Facing an offense that averages more than 30 points a game, Jackson's defense found itself in a hole right from the start. On Poplar Bluff's first offensive series, running back Todd Tinsley broke a pair of tackles and turned the corner for a 57-yard touchdown run.

"We knew he was fast, but we didn't know he could break tackles like he did," Jackson defensive end Tyler McNeely.

Jackson's defense held the Mules on their next possession, but it did not take long for Tinsley to create more problems for the Indians. After Jackson's offense gave the ball back to Poplar Bluff, Tinsley slipped tackles for a 59-yard gain deep into Jackson territory.

Poplar Bluff quarterback Mark Gum hooked up with receiver Andrew Heuiser for a six-yard touchdown a few plays later. The touchdown catch was one of eight Heuiser catches in the first half.

"We knew they had a tough defense," Heuiser said. "We knew we had to step up, and we did."

Jackson's offense came to life late in the first quarter. Quarterback Marc Lumsden overcame an 0-for-3 start and completed five straight passes to help march the Indians down the field. Jason Meystedt completed the long drive with a five-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 14-7.

Jackson's defense made a big stop on a fourth-and-goal to keep the score 14-7 on Poplar Bluff's next possession, but the Mules were not done in the first half. After getting the ball back with less than two minutes to play in the half, Gum hooked up with Heuiser for a 45-yard touchdown to make the score 21-7 with less than a minute to go before half.

"They're a good football team and we knew that," Jackson coach Carl Gross said. "We knew we'd have a tough time matching up with their receivers."

By halftime Tinsley already had 157 yards rushing and Gum had thrown for 165 yards on 10-of-13 passing.

Coming out of halftime, Jackson's defense kept the Indians in the game. Tinsley was held to 16 yards in the quarter and Jackson kept the score at 21-7.

"Coach came in at half and told us we were playing half-speed," McNeely said. "All of us came back and took that as a challenge."

While the defense stepped up in the third quarter, Jackson's offense and special teams faltered. Lumsden threw a key interception with the Indians driving, and Jackson's punt returner let the punt touch him and turned the ball over.

"They played hard in the second half, and they tried to play hard in the first half," Gross said. "For whatever reason they weren't ready to go."

Poplar Bluff put the game away with a touchdown to start the fourth quarter. Tinsley went in from 11 yards out to make the score 28-7. Tinsley's touchdown was his last carry of the game, and he finished with 195 yards on 17 carries.

Tyler Profilet replaced Lumsden in the fourth quarter for Jackson and led the Indians to a late touchdown drive. Meystedt's five-yard touchdown reception with less than two minutes remaining capped the scoring.

"It would have been nice to be conference champions," McNeely said. "But we've got Parkway Central next week so we can't quit. Next week starts a new season."

Gum finished the game 16-for-29 for 272 yards. Heuiser set a Poplar Bluff record with 13 catches for 225 yards.

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 171

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