Rams' defense answers call in fourth quarter

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Scott City held Malden out of the end zone twice in the closing minutes.

MALDEN -- Scott City, the most productive offensive team in the area last fall, showed Friday just how much its defense has improved since last season.

The Scott City defense yielded no touchdowns against Malden, stopping the Green Wave on four plays inside its own 10-yard line in the final 2 minutes to preserve a 14-6 victory.

"It didn't look too good at times," first-year Scott City coach Ronnie Jones said, "but we came up big when we had to have it."

Malden, which scored its only touchdown on a fumble return, marched on its last drive from its own 15 to Scott City's 3-yard line on eight plays. The yards came on three runs of 12 or more yards and a 27-yard pass play on third-and-19 for Tim Gage's only completion of the night.

After Josh DeBerry nudged the ball to the 1, Scott City stacked up Dealmour Moncrief for a 2-yard loss and strung out Andy Stephens for no gain as Craig Arnzen made the stop on a sweep to the left. On fourth-and-goal, John Pinkston sacked Gage for a 9-yard loss.

"We figured they would be running a sweep," Pinkston said. "Coach had me blitzing."

"This feels great," fellow defensive lineman Chris Blankenship said. "The monkey is off our back."

With one kneel-down, Scott City finished the effort to avenge last year's 33-14 loss to the SEMO South Conference champion.

"Our kids knew full well if we got by this bunch, it would be a good springboard," Jones said. "The kids gained a lot of confidence. Now we've got to put this behind us and go on to the next one."

Scott City came out with a strong first period, driving once into the red zone before quarterback Caleb Estes was intercepted by Derek Earnhart on a fourth-down pass into the end zone.

After forcing a punt, the Rams cashed in with a 40-yard drive capped by Estes' 20-yard touchdown pass to Arnzen, who is listed as the backup quarterback as well as a receiver.

Cody Carlyle converted the point-after for a 7-0 lead.

Carlyle's ensuing kickoff was a line drive off a Malden player, recovered by the Rams.

With the help of a personal foul and a 10-yard run by Estes, Scott City turned the turnover into seven points. Carlyle covered the final inches on a fourth-and-1 plunge. He made the kick for a 14-0 lead that stood up over the final 10:26 of the first half while Malden failed to get a first down.

Two short drives resulted in punts by the Green Wave. After Malden's special teams blocked a Carlyle punt and took over at the Rams' 21, Carlyle intercepted a pass by Gage on fourth down.

"They gave it to us and made us like it," Malden coach Gary Blaylock said. "They gave us all we wanted, but our mistakes helped them out. We had opportunities."

One of Malden's mistakes was an illegal block on a kickoff return that wiped out what would have been an 85-yard return for a touchdown by Moncrief to open the second half.

The Green Wave finally did break through when Scott City fumbled a third-down option play at midfield. Matthews scooped up the ball and ran 50 yards for a score. The kick was blocked, leaving the score 14-6 with 2:08 to play in the third.

From there, it was a battle to hang on as Scott City battled cramps that had many key players limping around and sometimes coming off the field to stretch.

"I don't know what the reason was," said Blankenship, who had one fourth-quarter sack. "I've never had cramps except for this year. I've been drinking water and eating bananas."

Pinkston offered some insight as to why he had leg cramps.

"I'm just fat and out of shape," he said.

Yet, he still had two sacks on the final drive.

"We knew going in, we were probably going to make a lot of mistakes," said Jones, who has been defensive coordinator at Caruthersville the last two seasons and was the long-time head coach at New Madrid County Central. "One thing we tried to focus on was having the kids where they needed to be when they came out in formations. It worked well early in the game."

Scott City, which returned its top two running backs in Carlyle and Blankenship, showed Friday night it also had defense and an effective passing game.

"Their running game didn't hurt us a whole lot," Blaylock said. "They had some big pass plays in the first half. In the second half, we started stopping them early in the half. They had the lead and it was just enough."gain as Craig Arnzen made the stop on a sweep to the left. On fourth-and-goal, John Pinkston sacked Gage for a 9-yard loss.

"We figured they would be running a sweep," Pinkston said. "Coach had me blitzing."

"This feels great," fellow defensive lineman Chris Blankenship said. "The monkey is off our back."

With one kneel-down, Scott City finished the effort to avenge last year's 33-14 loss to the SEMO South Conference champion.

"Our kids knew full well if we got by this bunch, it would be a good springboard," Jones said. "The kids gained a lot of confidence. Now we've got to put this behind us and go on to the next one."

Scott City came out with a strong first period, driving once into the red zone before quarterback Caleb Estes was intercepted by Derek Earnhart on a fourth-down pass into the end zone.

After forcing a punt, the Rams cashed in with a 40-yard drive capped by Estes' 20-yard touchdown pass to Arnzen, who is listed as the backup quarterback as well as a receiver.

Cody Carlyle converted the point-after for a 7-0 lead.

Carlyle's ensuing kickoff was a line drive off a Malden player, recovered by the Rams.

With the help of a personal foul and a 10-yard run by Estes, Scott City turned the turnover into seven points. Carlyle covered the final inches on a fourth-and-1 plunge. He made the kick for a 14-0 lead that stood up over the final 10:26 of the first half while Malden failed to get a first down.

Two short drives resulted in punts by the Green Wave. After Malden's special teams blocked a Carlyle punt and took over at the Rams' 21, Carlyle intercepted a pass by Gage on fourth down.

"They gave it to us and made us like it," Malden coach Gary Blaylock said. "They gave us all we wanted, but our mistakes helped them out. We had opportunities."

One of Malden's mistakes was an illegal block on a kickoff return that wiped out what would have been an 85-yard return for a touchdown by Moncrief to open the second half.

The Green Wave finally did break through when Scott City fumbled a third-down option play at midfield. Matthews scooped up the ball and ran 50 yards for a score. The kick was blocked, leaving the score 14-6 with 2:08 to play in the third.

From there, it was a battle to hang on as Scott City battled cramps that had many key players limping around and sometimes coming off the field to stretch.

"I don't know what the reason was," said Blankenship, who had one fourth-quarter sack. "I've never had cramps except for this year. I've been drinking water and eating bananas."

Pinkston offered some insight as to why he had leg cramps.

"I'm just fat and out of shape," he said.

Yet, he still had two sacks on the final drive.

"We knew going in, we were probably going to make a lot of mistakes," said Jones, who has been defensive coordinator at Caruthersville the last two seasons and was the long-time head coach at New Madrid County Central. "One thing we tried to focus on was having the kids where they needed to be when they came out in formations. It worked well early in the game."

Scott City, which returned its top two running backs in Carlyle and Blankenship, showed Friday night it also had defense and an effective passing game.

"Their running game didn't hurt us a whole lot," Blaylock said. "They had some big pass plays in the first half. In the second half, we started stopping them early in the half. They had the lead and it was just enough."

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