(Chris Pobst/Standard Democrat)
Big plays and mistakes by the Eagles gave the Tigers a 35-point cushion early in the contest and by the time East Prairie's offense got going, Caruthersville was well on its way to a 70-22 win, sending them to their fifth straight title game.
"Overall it was a good night," Caruthersville head coach Jimmy Jackson said. "A lot of offensive success. It kind of died out in that second quarter a little bit. I think we felt like we had scored 35 points pretty quick and got a little bit complacent there."
(Chris Pobst/Standard Democrat)
Golliday found Qualls six times for 156 yards and four touchdowns to make sure the Eagles never got within striking distance as the game wore on.
"We like to throw it up to George a lot," Jackson said. "We got some other receivers in the mix tonight too. We have a bunch of guys. I think that whole receiving crew is capable of catching the ball and doing things with it. Deandre did a good job carrying the ball and the offensive line did a good job as well."
Golliday finished the night 9 of 11 passing, hitting four receivers for 223 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.
Deandre Davis added 80 yards on 11 carries to lead the rushing attack on a night where the Tigers out-gained the Eagles 395-162 in total yards.
On the defensive side Caruthersville kept East Prairie's usually strong run game well in check. After running for 358 yards in a 51-15 win against St. Pius X last week the Eagles were held to just 104 yards on 31 attempts by the Tigers.
In his final game, East Prairie's lead back Deverence Jones was held to 66 yards on 14 attempts and a score. Most of those yards, 44, came on two big runs in the final minute of the game.
Just a week prior Jones torched St. Pius for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries.
"They were really adjusting to a lot of our motion and jetting out their defensive ends," East Prairie head coach Chad Jamerson said of his team's offensive troubles. "It just made life really difficult for us to get the edge. When the edge wasn't there unfortunately they took away the inside run as well."
East Prairie forced a punt on the Tigers' first possession of the game, but Caruthersville came back on its next drive and scored on a 35-yard pass from Golliday to Qualls.
Mistakes on each of East Prairie's next two drives led to the Tigers scoring 21 points in just under three minutes.
A bad snap on an Eagle punt soon after Quall's touchdown gave Caruthersville the ball back on East Prairie's eight yard line. Davis scored from three yards out on the second play of the drive to make it 14-0 with 4:27 left in the first quarter. A second straight Eagles' drive ended in disaster when Bryce Strawn intercepted a Carson Aycock pass, taking it back 55 yards for a score to make it 21-0 with 3:34 left in the half.
"Nerves and just couldn't settle down and get adjusted," Jamerson said of his team's offensive mistakes. "We tried to force things and had trouble adjusting to some of the things they were doing. At the end of the night it's cliche but Caruthersville is a solid football team and they came out and played."
A seven-yard touchdown run from Terrance Rasberry early in the second quarter was followed by another scoring pass from Golliday to Qualls to give Caruthersville a 35-0 advantage with 8:03 still left in the half.
On the Eagles next drive a 79-yard run from Brian Shoffner set up a one-yard Jones touchdown to break East Prairie's scoring drought.
An ensuing onside kick paid off when Aycock found Derez Tipler for a 25 yard touchdown pass to put the Eagles in the game, 35-16 with 5:54 left before the break.
(Chris Pobst/Standard Democrat)
A punt on that first series of the half, however, was followed by three straight drives that ended on a fumble.
Caruthersville shut out the Eagles in the second half while scoring another four times to put the mercy rule in effect and make up the 70-22 final.
"Our defense was getting off the ball quick," Jackson said. "Just blowing guys off the ball. It was just kind of boxed everything in and made it tough for those guys. They had some unfortunate snaps on their end that was hard for them to handle. Us getting off the ball quick and applying that pressure played a role in getting the turnovers too."
Shoffner led East Prairie's offense with 80 yards on three carries. Jones rushed 14 times for 66 yards and a score while also finding the end zone on a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Qualls' 156 yards receiving led the Tigers' offense. Davis' 80 rushing yards came on 11 attempts and Lamonte Bell carried nine times for 40 yards.
East Prairie's season ends at 6-5.
"I'm so proud of our kids effort," Jamerson said. "They came out and played hard. When the going got tough they still fought through. I'm so grateful to our seniors for the sacrifices they made for four years. For putting up with me for four years. That says a lot about them. I'm not the easiest to get along with and I have high expectations. I kids come in day in and day out with that lunch pale mentality that we've tried to instill."
Caruthersville (8-3) will face top-seeded Malden (10-0) Friday at Malden High School for the district championship at 7 p.m.
Caruthersville has made the district title game all five years since they've went to the current bracket format and this marks the fourth straight year they'll face Malden in the championship game. Malden's reigned over the district the last two years with the Tigers taking the title last in 2013.
In their regular season meeting Malden won on the road 28-20 in three overtimes.
"It's always a high energy game," Jackson said. "I love playing those guys. Just the energy. You go out and feel that energy, where every play matters. I think our guys our pumped up to play those guys."
C -- George Qualls 35 pass from Charles Golliday (Terrius Rodgers kick good), 6:04
C -- Deandre Davis 3 run (Terrius Rodgers kick good), 4:27
C -- Bryce Strawn 37 interception return (Terrius Rodgers kick good), 3:24
E -- Deverence Jones 1 run (Derez Tipler pass from Carson Aycock good), 6:48
E -- Derez Tipler 25 pass from Carson Aycock (Deverence Jones run good), 5:54
C -- Deandre Davis 26 run (Terrius Rodgers kick good), 5:24
E -- Derez Tipler 55 punt return (Carson Aycock run no good), 0:08
C -- George Qualls 50 pass from Charles Golliday (Terrius Rodgers kick good), 8:32
C -- George Qualls 12 pass from Charles Golliday (George Qualls run good), 5:20
C -- Bryce Strawn 20 pass from Charles Golliday (Terrius Rodgers kick good), 10:49
C -- Micah Rodgers 10 run ((Terrius Rodgers kick blocked), 1:45
|Total yards 162||395|
Rushing -- East Prairie, Noah Groves 1-(-1), Deverence Jones 14-66, Derez Tipler 10-(-10), Carson Aycock 3-(-31), Brian Shoffner 3-80. Caruthersville, Charles Golliday 6-2, Deandre Davis 11-80, Destin Russel 3-18, Terrance Rasberry 2-12, Lamonte Bell 9-40, Micah Rodgers 3-20.
Passing -- East Prairie, Carson Aycock 2-8-1 31, Derez Tipler 0-4-1 0, Deverence Jones 1-1-0 27. Caruthersville, Charles Golliday 9-11-0 223.
Receiving -- East Prairie, Derez Tipler 3-58. Caruthersville, George Qualls 6-156, Terrance Rasberry 1-33, Deandre Davis 1-14, Bryce Strawn 1-20.