The Festus Tigers unleashed their offense on Friday night and evened their record at 4-4 on the season with a dominant 41-20 win in Farmington over the Knights. The Tigers were efficient through the air and deadly on the ground in this one, leading to back-to-back wins for the second time this season.
The game was tight defensively in the first, until Farmington finally broke the scoreless tie with a three-yard run right around the four minute mark. But the Tigers would answer right back with a rushing TD of their own as Hayden Bates punched in his first of three touchdowns on the day with a 10-yard bolt onto the endzone. After 12 minutes of play, Festus was down 7-6.
That score wouldn’t last long though, after a big fumble recovery by Tyler Shepherd the Tigers owned the second quarter. Quarterback Essien Smith hooked up with Senior wideout Arhmad Branch for a seven-yard strike. After a big defensive stop for Festus, QB Jeremiah Cunningham hit Branch on a screen pass for 31 yards, followed up by a Cunningham keeper from 36 yards out for a touchdown. The defense was a brick wall and had an answer for everything the Knights threw at them, giving the Tigers a 20-7 lead heading into the break.
After the halftime speeches, Farmington came out fired up and converted on a 10-yard run to trim the lead to 20-13, but Bates came through again (this time from two yards out) and stole those six points right back. The back and forth was on though, as the Knights answered the bell, and it appeared these two teams would just be trading touchdown drives.
However, Festus put a stop to that in the fourth quarter. It was Cunningham this time who found Branch in the endzone on a 15-yard catch and run, and then the Tigers handed it back to their workhorse on the ground to cap the scoring. Bates ran in his third of the game from eight yards out to give the Tigers a 21-point lead, and that would hold up as the Knights were blanked in the final frame. Festus moved to 4-4 with the 41-20 victory on foreign soil.
Bates had the three scores with 72 yards on the ground, but Cunningham was the leading rusher with 128. He was also 9-of-13 through the air for 224 yards and a score, showing how dominant he can be with both his arm and his legs. On the receiving side of things, Branch had both scores, but Landen Yates was the top arial option for the Tigers, hauling in six passes for 158 yards to lead the team.
The Tigers have really turned their season around the last two weeks, but their final regular season test will be the toughest of them all, as they travel to Jackson to take on the mighty Indians.