Fresh off of their first win of the season last week, the Festus Tigers followed up that performance in style on Friday night with a massive 56-7 trouncing of the DeSoto Dragons. The Tigers racked up five first half touchdowns and the defense was virtually impenetrable en route to the huge victory that moved them to 2-2 on the season. After a rough start to the season, it seems some District play was the tonic that Festus needed to get back on track.
The Tigers wasted no time getting the wheels moving in this one as quarterback Jeremiah Cunningham threw a dart to top wideout Arhmad Branch for a 29-yard catch and run that put Festus up 7-0. Then they came right back with the running game on the next series as Hayden Bates ripped off a 25-yard score to double the lead. The 14-0 first quarter was just the beginning though.
To start the second, Cunningham got back to work, but this time he chose legs over arm. He kept the snap and scrambled into the end zone for an eight-yard score to but the Tigers up by three touchdowns. But Festus wasn’t done pouring it on, so they got Essien Smith involved. The QB shake-up must have mystified the Dragons, because on his only pass of the game, Smith found Branch for a 78-yard bomb that put the Tigers up 28-0 and put the game out of reach. Bates then provided the first half nail in the Week 4 coffin as he punched in a six-yard rush to give Festus an insurmountable 35-0 lead at the half.
The second half for the Dragons wouldn’t get any easier either, as it turned into the Hayden Bates Show. The Festus back took the opening kickoff and returned it for a ridiculous 68-yard Td run, but he didn’t stop there. Two minutes later, after a Tigers defensive stop and marching all the way down the field, he bulldozed his way into the end zone from one yard out for his third consecutive TD.
The Dragons finally got on the board in the fourth quarter on a broken play where their QB got loose and booked it for an 89-yard score, but Landen Yates recouped that loss in no time by taking the ensuing kickoff to the house from 78-yards out. That capped the scoring for Festus and for the game, and the Tigers found themselves with a more than dominant 56-7 victory.
Cunningham handled the majority of the QB duties in this one, going 5-of-5 for 93 yards and a score, but Smith made his mark as well with that 78-yard TD on his only throw of the game, giving the Tigers a perfect 6-for-6 night passing the ball. The running game was paramount though, as Bates stole the show in this one. He had 136 all purpose yards and three scores to spearhead the Tiger offense.
Branch was the big name in the receiving department, catching all five targets for 127 yards and two scores, while Yates had 44 on his only grab. He also had the big kickoff return for a score, but he was somewhat outshined by the Tiger defense, who forced three turnovers and held the Dragons to less than 150 yards of total offense, and only gave up one touchdown.
The slate is now wiped clean, as the Tigers are back to .500 on the season, but the true test will come next week against their crosstown rivals. The Hillsboro Hawks are undefeated and nationally ranked and will host the Tigers in Week 5. This could be the deciding point of the season for Festus.