Eagles collar Tigers 28-20

Saturday, September 8, 2001

Murphy's Law was in full force at Houck Stadium Friday night.

Everything that could go wrong did for New Madrid during the third quarter.

The same could be said for Cape Central during the entire first half.

The end result was an exciting finish as the Eagles (2-0) held off the Tigers 28-20.

With four minutes to go in the third quarter, Central was trailing 20-0. Four minutes later the game was tied.

Central, on its second possession of the second half, finally got on the scoreboard with a 12-yard completion from Mitch Craft to Marcus Klund with 3:47 remaining in the third quarter. The pass was tipped and could've been intercepted, but Klund hauled it in for his third touchdown of the season. The scoring drive was set up by a Klund interception and a 39-yard return to the 27-yard line.

Central created a huge turnover when New Madrid punter Lavontase Stricklen couldn't handle a snap and was tackled at his own 4-yard line. Two plays later, Hicks scored from two yards out to pull Central to within 20-14 with 49 seconds left in the third quarter.

Then, on New Madrid's next offensive play, history repeated itself.

Central linebacker Jeremiah Dukes pounced on a fumble -- a toss was mishandled by New Madrid's Lionel Smith -- at the 2-yard line. Hicks ran it in from there to tie the game at 20. Central missed the extra point.

"That was eight minutes of hell," New Madrid coach Steve Rogers said. "But we were resilient enough to get a good drive at the end and put together four or six good defensive plays."

"There were no big gipper speeches at halftime," said Cape Central coach Lawrence Brookins. "I told them you have to light your own fires sometimes."

New Madrid gained back the momentum, and the lead, when Brian Murph capped off a 5-minute drive when he scored on a sneak from one yard out to put the Eagles ahead 26-20. Murph also ran in the extra point to put New Madrid ahead 28-20.

On its last possession of the game, Central advanced the ball to New Madrid's 45 but the drive stalled when two deep passes were tipped by Stricklen.

Central couldn't have played much worse than it did in the first half.

New Madrid outrushed the Tigers 139 yards to 33. And Central couldn't pass the ball effectively because of the pressure the Eagles were exhibiting.

Quarterback Mitch Craft completed just one of three pass attempts in the first half, but was sacked five times. He ended up being sacked nine times for 47 yards and completing five of his 13 attempts for 55 yards. He was intercepted once.

Monroe Hicks had a great start, rushing for 18 yards on his first carry and 24 yards on his second. He ended up with 42 first-half yards on five carries and one catch for 19 yards. But he ended up with only 52 yards on 10 carries.

New Madrid had 103 first-half rushing yards on 14 carries from returning all-state running back Dereke Tipler, but he was held to only 17 rushing yards in the second half.

New Madrid took advantage of a fumble on Central's first offensive play of the game to set up a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brian Murph to Desmond Sims with 7:21 remaining in the first quarter.

The Eagles went up 14-0 with 3:37 left in the first quarter when Tipler ran it in from 15 yards out. A long punt return by Tipler in the second quarter set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Murph.

Cape Central's Chris Smith blocked the extra-point attempt and the score stood at 20-0 entering the second half.

It was the second straight week Central had a poor first half.

"We stink in the first half and we stink offensively," Brookins said. "We put ourselves in big holes, we fumbled on the first snap, we got two or three delay penalties and we had a clip call on a TD score. But even with all that we had a chance to win it."

Craft's 21-yard touchdown scamper toward the end of the first quarter was called back. Later on that drive the Tigers, on fourth down and three at the 18, attempted a 35-yard field goal, but Chris Conrad's kick sailed right.

New Madrid outgained Central on the ground 198 yards to 47.

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