On Friday night the Festus Tigers rolled into Imperial, MO on a mission. Searching for their first win of the young season, they had their sights set on the Windsor Owls and they were going no holds barred. The Owls didn’t stand a chance, as this hungry Tigers team executed on both sides of the ball and never let up. When the dust settled Festus had gotten that critical first victory with a dominating 37-12 performance.
The game started out as a bit of a defensive stalemate, but Festus broke the scoreless tie at 2:36 of the first quarter after a long drive that ended with Jeremiah Cunningham hitting Arhmad Branch with a short three-yard strike. That would be the lone tally for either team in the first frame, but the 7-0 lead was one Festus would never relinquish.
The Tigers struck again quickly to add to their lead early in the second when Essien Smith got his shot at QB and connected with Landen Yates for an 11-yard touchdown. Festus then followed that up with more stellar defensive play and sacked Windsor’s quarterback in the end zone for a safety to tack on two more points and get the ball back. They then put the first half cherry on top with 3:28 remaining as Hayden Bates busted one up the gut for a 13-yard rushing score. The Tigers led 23-0 at the break.
Half time energized the Owls a bit as they finally got on the scoreboard with a three yard run (the two-point try failed), but Festus came right back to wipe out that TD with a four yard QB scramble from Cunningham. He hit pay dirt and the Tigers closed out the penultimate quarter with a 30-6 advantage.
Not to be outdone by his counterpart, Smith opened the final frame with a rushing score of his own, this time from six yards out to give Festus a 37-6 lead. The Owls would find the end zone one more time, but the defense held strong and the Tigers found themselves with a much needed win in the books after the 37-12 final.
The dual attack at QB has been somewhat of a revelation for Festus this season, and if they keep getting results like this there is no reason to stray from the playbook. Cunningham had 92 yards and a TD through the air and also picked up 37 yards on the ground, adding another score. Smith wasn’t far off with his 61 yards passing (1 TD/1 INT) and 31 yards plus a score rushing.
The biggest force on the ground was Bates though as he totaled 82 yards and touchdown, while Branch and Yates each had a TD through the air and 64 and 75 yards, respectively. But the defense was a huge part of the story in this one, as the Tigers held Windsor to just 119 total yards (74 passing, 45 rushing). The stout defensive front kept the Owls on their heels and Festus seemed to snuff out every attempt by Windsor to string some positive plays together.
This was a huge win and has to be a relief for the Tigers, who started out 0-2 on the season. They look reinvigorated though and hopefully can carry some of that momentum into next week’s matchup as they host the DeSoto Dragons in an attempt to get back to .500 on the season.