How quickly things change.
Coming into Friday's Class 2, District 1 championship game, the Green Wave had taken their last five games against the Tigers dating back to 2014 as they've met each regular season and again in the playoffs.
It's the two teams' fourth consecutive meeting in the championship game with the Tigers latest win coming in 2013.
"It's tough," Green Wave head coach Joel Wyatt said of facing Caruthersville. "You're going to get a physical game and you're going to play against athletes, guys that can run. The first few years we couldn't get over the Caruthersville mystique.
"In some of them we were already beat before we stepped on the field and with each win we've gotten that confidence."
While Caruthersville's offense ran nearly twice as many plays as Malden, it was the Green Waves' big stops in the red zone that proved to be the difference in the game.
The first was on an 85-yard drive that came directly after Malden's score on their opening drive.
It ended with senior George Qualls fumbling just short of the end zone and Malden defender Dee Triplett coming up with the loose ball for a Green Wave touchback.
Another series in the second quarter saw Caruthersville just six yards from a touchdown when a costly delay of game penalty moved them back to the 11.
The Tigers settled for a 27-yard field goal from Terrius Rodgers, making it 7-3 with 4:30 left in the half.
"We did some good things in the passing game and in the run game," Caruthersville head coach Jimmy Jackson said. "Just couldn't punch it in in the red zone. To be honest I didn't think it was a fumble (on Qualls).
"I thought the kid was down, but it's a judgement call. They made a call on the field and we have to live with that."
A third stalled drive proved to be the most back-breaking. Trailing 20-16 in the fourth quarter Caruthersville started on their own 19-yard line and marched 71 yards down the field to the Green Wave 10-yard line.
Another delay of game penalty set them back to the 15, where they faced a fourth-and-goal.
"We had definitely had the 'bend but don't break' defense going tonight," Wyatt said. "We got the fumble recovery in the end zone. Our defense had to be getting tired. They were on the field the whole first half."
Adding to the Tigers problems on the night was the loss of Qualls for the night on a hit in the second quarter with 7:20 before the half. Qualls, who was the Tigers' leading receiver, was going for a pass up the middle just out of his reach when he took a hit and was slow to get up.
A suspected concussion kept him out the rest of the game.
Just last week in the district semifinals against East Prairie, Qualls hauled in six receptions for 156 yards and three touchdowns.
"He's huge," Jackson said of Qualls. "He's over 1,000 yard receiver and it's the first time we had that in school history. We went to Bryce Strawn after that. He's a great player too.
"We have some good receivers, but I like to think if we had George we score a couple more times."
Even after surrendering the pick with 5:10 to play while trailing 20-16, it looked like the Tigers would have a chance to respond.
With all three timeouts still in their pocket Caruthersville need just one final stop and the Green Wave sat on the Tigers' 20-yard line.
Several big first down runs by Malden quarterback Pete Brown and running back Tray Stevenson ensured Caruthersville would never use those timeouts, however.
The Green Wave took almost five minutes off the clock with the end zone the only thing able to put a stop to their drive.
A nine-yard touchdown run from Brown capped the drive and all but cemented the 27-16 win with only 50 seconds left to play.
Carutherville outgained Malden 326 to 302 in total yards for the contest, running 67 plays to the Green Wave's 35.
Golliday threw for 210 yards on completing 17 of 27 passes, throwing a touchdown and three picks.
Strawn caught 11 passes for 156 yards and score while Deandre Davis' 87 yards on 23 carrie sled the rushing attack.
"They have to be feeling a little bit down, just for the simple fact (George) Qualls goes out in the first half," Wyatt said of the Tigers. "He's such a weapon and one of the better players on the area. Who knows what happens if he's in the game. (Quarterback Charles) Golliday was on even without him. We got a break there."
For Malden, Tray Stevenson gained 130 yards on just eight carries for a 16.25 per-carry average. His longest run was a 66-yard touchdown and he gained double-digit yardage on four attempts.
Brown rushed 16 times for 111 yards and two scores. As a team the Green Wave ran 33 times for 282 yards, attempting only two passes on the night.
"It's one of those where we knew we'd have to earn it," Wyatt said of the win. "When you beat Caruthersville you have to earn it. Sure enough we did."
M -- Cordell Kilgore 4 run (Dee Triplett kick good), 6:50
C -- Terrius Rodgers 27 field goal, 4:30
C -- Bryce Strawn 36 pass from Charles Golliday, (Terrius Rodgers kick good), 2:56
M -- Tray Stevenson 66 run (Dee Triplett kick good), 2:40
M -- Mason Brown 11 run (Dee Triplett kick no good), 7:59
C -- Deandre Davis 2 run (Terrius Rodgers kick blocked), 2:18
M -- Mason Brown 9 run (Dee Triplett kick good), 0:50
RUSHING -- Caruthersville, Deandre Davis 23-87, Terrance Rasberry 3-0, Charles Golliday 12-28, George Qualls 1-4, Blake Irions 1-0. Malden, Bryce Nelson 3-23, Tray Stevenson 8-130, Mason Brown 16-111, Cordell Kilgore 4-3, Jamilyn Criglar 2-15.
PASSING -- Caruthersville, Charles Golliday 17-27-2 210. Malden, Mason Brown 1-2-0 20.
RECEIVING -- Caruthersville, Bryce Strawn 11-156, Deandre Davis 3-17, Terrius Rodgers 1-14, Destin Russel 1-16, Terrance Rasberry 1-1. Malden, Cordell Kilgore 1-20.