JACKSON -- Jackson was eager to play at home after opening the football season with three straight road games.
Steady lightning made the Indians wait nearly an extra two hours Friday night.
A much improved Sikeston team made the Indians sweat.
But in the end the wait was worth it for Jackson, which pulled away late for a 35-14 victory that was much closer than the final score.
Jackson and Sikeston are both 2-2 after the SEMO North Conference opener for each team.
"Getting the win was nice, but we have lots of improvement to make," Jackson senior tailback Adam Zweigart said.
Friday's contest, scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff, did not get going until about 8:55 p.m.
The Indians said they didn't relish having to wait out the lightning delay in their locker room.
"It was horrible because we came out ready for our first home game," Zweigart said. "It wasn't fun."
Added senior linebacker/offensive guard Blake Peiffer: "It threw us off. We just sat there [in the locker room]. We didn't know how long it would be."
Much of the game was played in a steady rain, which attributed to the nine combined fumbles. Sikeston had six of those, but lost only one, while Jackson fumbled three times and lost two.
But what the contest lacked in artistic excellence, it more than made up for in hard hitting and competitiveness.
Jackson had beaten Sikeston five straight times, including by a combined 133-0 score the last three seasons.
But second-year Sikeston coach Kent Gibbs, a Jackson native, has the Bulldogs improving fast.
After going 2-8 in Gibbs' first season, the Bulldogs already have matched that win total. And Friday they gave Jackson a battle for the first time in quite a while.
"Sikeston is much improved. Their coaches do an excellent job," Jackson coach Van Hitt said. "It was a hard-fought game and we knew it would be."
Although Sikeston never led, the Bulldogs threatened to go ahead early in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 20-14, Sikeston drove from its 16-yard line to a first down at the Jackson 13. But the Indians' defense stiffened and forced the Bulldogs to turn over the ball on downs.
"That was the difference in the game," Hitt said of Jackson's defensive stand.
The Indians then answered with an 80-yard drive that ended on senior tailback Mitchell McCulley's impressive 48-yard touchdown run with 7:59 left.
Zweigart ran for the 2-point conversion, putting Jackson up 28-14.
A short time later, Jackson junior safety Tommy Selsor returned an interception 43 yards to the Sikeston 17.
Senior fullback Andy Winkleblack scored on a 4-yard run with 4:53 left to put away Sikeston.
"If we get in the end zone [early in the final period], it would have been interesting," Gibbs said. "But I think we've come a long way.
"Our kids believed they could win. That was the big thing."
Zweigart, taking advantage of strong blocking by his offensive line, rushed for 175 yards on 23 carries, including a 66-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter. He has nearly 700 yards this season.
McCulley added 64 yards on seven attempts and scored two touchdowns, the other on a 1-yard plunge.
Jackson junior Morgan Johnson kicked a 28-yard field goal on the final play of the opening half to put the Indians ahead 20-7.
Junior tailback Eli Jackson paced the Bulldogs with 97 yards on 19 carries. He entered the contest with 523 yards while averaging better than 10 yards per attempt.
Senior quarterback Charlie Bohannon scored both Sikeston touchdowns.
Jackson had only a small advantage in total yardage, 316 to 276.
"They've improved so much from last year," Peiffer said of the Bulldogs. "We knew they'd be good."
Jackson will play the second of three straight home games Friday when Hazelwood Central visits.
J -- Safety, Sikeston fell on fumble in end zone
J -- Adam Zweigart 66 run (Cole Rogers run)
S -- Charlie Bohannon 13 run (Bohannon kick)
J -- Mitchell McCulley 1 run (Morgan Johnson kick)
J -- Johnson 28 FG
S -- Bohannon 3 run (Bohannon kick)
J -- McCulley 48 run (Zweigart run)
J -- Andy Winkleblack 4 run (Johnson kick)
RUSHING -- Sikeston, Eli Jackson 19-97, Bohannon 13-37, Rico Ivy 5-35, Jarian Wims 4-4, C.A Strickland 1-minus 1, team 3-minus 19. Jackson, Zweigart 23-175, McCulley 7-64, Winkleblack 4-15, Marcus Harris 3-6, Ryan Marble 3-6, Drew Bucher 2-4, Jerrett Schwab 1-6, team 2-minus 2.
PASSING -- Sikeston, Bohannon 5-14-2-96, Niquavious Dixon 1-1-0-27. Jackson, Harris 3-6-0-42, Zweigart 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING -- Sikeston, Demetrious Jackson 2-18, Ivy 1-37, Dixon 1-37, Jordan Williams 1-27, Wims 1-4. Jackson, Ethan Ruth 1-23, Tommy Selsor 1-11, Eli Gohn 1-8.