After dropping two in a row, the Festus Tigers stepped up on Friday night and funneled their frustrations into Pacific. The offense came alive in a big way as the Tigers put up a 55-burger on the Indians, while the defense held them to just 24 points for a convincing victory. The win moved Festus to 3-4 on the season.
The game started off with a bit of a wrinkle, as the home team broke free for a 36-yard run that turned into a 7-0 lead, but the Tigers would roar back quickly. About 90 seconds later they marched down the field and capped off their drive with a Hayden Bates 28-yard run into the endzone. The defense then stepped up for the rest of the quarter and kept the Indians off the board, while the offense just kept on churning out points. Bates struck again, this time from 43 yards out, and then Essien Smith found top wideout Arhmad Branch for a 32-yard catch and run. After the first 12 minutes, Festus had themselves a 20-7 lead.
Pacific would answer back at the start of the second quarter with an eight-yard TD run, but the Tigers would have an answer for that, as Smith ripped off a ridiculous 69-yard rush on quarterback keeper. The Tigers were up 27-14, but the Indians were determined to make it a game. They worked their way down to the one yard line before finding pay dirt on a rushing TD to cut the lead to 27-21 as the half expired.
Whatever Head Coach AJ Ofodile said to his players in the locker room, well, it worked. The second half was all Festus, and the ground game was of the punishing variety. Bates found the endzone for a third time on the Tigers’ opening possession with a brilliant 50-yard dash to extend the lead to 33-21.
Pacific would convert on a field goal try from 27 yards out to cut the lead to 33-24, but the Tigers took over for good after that. The defense was impenetrable the rest of the way and the offense never took their foot off the gas. Landen Yates rushed one in from 11 yards out and caught the two-point conversion just before Smith went off again. This time it was an incredible 80-yard rush and, to add insult to injury for the Indians, he hit Branch on the two-point try.
That pretty much sealed the deal at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and the reserves got to see some time to close out the game. After one more rushing score Festus had themselves a 55-24 lead, which would hold up as the final score in a dominant win on both sides of the ball.
The Tigers generated 541 yards of total offense, and an astonishing 436 of those came on the ground. Both Bates and Smith were monsters in this one, with the running back leading the way with 172 yards and three scores. The signal caller was nipping at his heels though with 169 of his own, two scores, and he was 2-for-2 passing for 48 yards and an additional TD.
Jeremiah Cunningham, the other man in the pocket, was 5-0f-8 for 57 yards and also rushed for 26. On the receiving end, it was once again Branch doing the heavy lifting. In fact, he was responsible for 93 of the 105 yards through the air and had a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
The Tigers needed a win like this one to show that they are still a force to be reckoned with, and they can continue that trend next week as they travel to Farmington to take on the Knights in the penultimate game of the regular season. A win gets them back to .500.