The Festus Tigers used the big play early and often to take down the St. Charles West Warriors 49-7 on Friday, propelling the Varsity Football squad to a winning record as the regular season came to a close. The now 5-4 Tigers have some momentum heading into the playoffs.
This contest started out stingy on both sides as there was nearly a scoreless first quarter, but the Tigers broke through with 44 seconds remaining as Landen Bradshaw kicked off his monster game with a nine-yard TD run. Emily Holt connected for the extra point and the Tigers ended the first with a 7-0 lead, one that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Things opened up considerably more in the second quarter offensively for the Tigers. Following a key fumble recovery, Bradshaw broke free after a quick handoff and took it 67 yards to the house. He weaved in and out of defenders before streaking down the sideline for his second score. That put the Tigers up 13-0. Then, just three minutes later, QB Cole Rickermann hooked up with Isaac Stucke for a 32-yard strike to give Festus a 19-0 lead going into the half.
The second half opened with a bang as Rickermann found Arhmad Branch on their opening drive. Another big play doused the Warriors, as Branch caught a long pass over the middle and made several defenders miss before sprinting into the end zone untouched for a 68-yard touchdown. A minute later, he and Rickermann decided to do it again on a similar play, this time for 47 yards, Branch again eluded defenders and made a nifty cutback move at the goal line to sneak into the end zone. All of a sudden, Festus was up 35-0.
They weren’t done in the third though. This time they went back to the ground game and Kaian Robert-Day showed off his skills. The bruising tail back made a few cuts up the gut and then he was off to the races. He found another gear with his speed and left multiple Warriors in his wake as the cruised into the end zone untouched for a 62-yard score.
After the third it was 42-0 and time for the starters to catch a breather. The only scoring in the fourth for the Tigers was another long run. This time it was Freshman Essien Smith, who turned his only carry of the game into a 61-yard touchdown run. That made it 49-0 and gave the Tigers three scoring plays over 60 yards on the day. The Warriors finally found the end zone, but it was far too late to make a difference. The game ended at 49-7 and the Tigers were back above .500.
This was a balanced attack from the Tigers offense. Rickermann made the most of his 10 attempts through the air, connecting on eight of them for 202 yards, three TDs and a pick. His favorite target was Branch, who only caught two passes, but turned them into 115 yards and two scores. Stucke was the other standout through the air with his two grabs for 53 yards and a touchdown.
As for the ground game, Bradshaw went off with 12 carries for 190 yards and a pair of TDs, while Roberts-Day had four totes for 75 yards and a score. Mix that in with a stingy defense that only allowed a meaningless fourth-quarter score, and Festus had found its recipe for success.
This was a much needed win for the Tigers, who have had a rollercoaster of a season filled with elation and heartbreak, seemingly flip-flopping those emotions every week. Now they have a head of steam and maybe a chip on their shoulder as they head into the District Playoffs.