East Prairie received the opening kickoff, and it seemed for awhile the Eagles had conceived a game plan of calling upon freshman running back Blayn Goodding. Taking over at their own 22-yard-line, Goodding opened East Prairie's first offensive series with a six-yard carry, and it appeared early on the Indians might be in for a long night trying to contain the youthful runner. However, after advancing the ball into Indian territory, an incomplete pass, followed by back-to-back penalties forced the home team to punt from their own 30. The short punt of 25 yards settled on the Indian 45, from where Kennett's Harold Weeden trotted onto the field and promptly carried the ball three times, scoring from 15 yards out. His two-point conversion would put the Tribe on top 8-0 at the five-minute mark of the opening period.
A steady diet of East Prairie's Goodding gave the home crowd reason to anticipate tying the score, but the drive stalled at the Indian 49, after a failed attempt to convert on fourth down. The Indians' offense stuttered as well, forcing a punt back to East Prairie. However, hopes from the Eagles to capitalize were dashed when Kennett's Tanner Bryant sacked the quarterback for a huge loss, forcing a punt that traveled a mere 11 yards, allowing the Indians to once again take over near midfield at their own 46. From there quarterback Weeden capped off a six-play drive that consumed only two minutes, 23 seconds, with a nine-yard scoring strike to Ridge Diffine. After a failed two-point conversion attempt, Kennett held a 14-0 lead, which stood at halftime, as neither team was able to take advantage on their final two offensive series.
Perhaps feeling good beginning the second half with a rare lead, the Indians struck quickly on the first play from scrimmage on a 64-yard touchdown run by Diffine. The two-point conversion by Weeden increased the Kennett lead to 22-0 with less than 15 seconds having elapsed. East Prairie stalled during the next drive with the aid of another quarterback sack, this one recorded by Jake Tefft.
By now, the Indian fans who made the trip for the final regular-season game had concluded the decision to do so was well worth the trouble. They felt even better when Weeden performed his magic once more, breaking free for a 51-yard touchdown run, capping off a four-play drive that consumed only one minute, 31 seconds. There seemed little reason to lament the failed extra-point kick with the Indians in command 28-0 just past midway through the third period.
An intercepted pass by D.K. Wallace at the East Prairie 37, coupled with a return to the 25, set up another quick scoring drive, capped off with Weeden's second scoring strike through the air. After a pass completion to Cameron Harper advanced the football just one yard shy of the goal line the Indians might have caught the Eagles off guard with another pass, this one to Ridge Diffine. The kick by Bud Hilburn extended the Kennett lead to 35-0, a score which for once, would find the Indians on the favorable end of the "running clock" as we headed into the final frame!
Things only got worse for the home team when the Indians forced a fumble by Goodding, recovered by Bron McPherson. After D.K. Wallace, now at quarterback broke free for a 19-yard run, a holding penalty negated the effort. Undeterred, Wallace took the next handoff 24 yards for the Tribe's final touchdown; the kick by Hilburn put Kennett on top, 42-0 with 11:13 remaining.
With the Indians content to force the Eagles to grind out yardage with the clock now running non-stop East Prairie would require 9:08 to complete a 15-play touchdown drive, capped off with a 12-yard run by Frank Nave. The two-point conversion run by Frank Nave made the final score, Kennett 42, East Prairie 8. An offside kick by the Eagles was recovered by the Indians. Kennett merely had to snap the ball twice as time expired.
With their victory Friday, the Indians completed the regular season with a 1-8 record, and will now face either Ste. Genevieve or Park Hills Central in the district playoffs next Thursday. Although the Indians had certainly hoped for more success this season, returnees at several positions offer hope for better results next year.
On a personal note, when this season ends, I would challenge all players during the off-season to consider one or more other sports, which always serves as excellent vehicles for conditioning, while providing continued opportunities for competition. For those who instead opt for "hitting the weight room," refuse to allow a future opponent to "out-work" you. Having said that, let's hope the Indians can "shock the world" this week, and "postpone" those plans for another day!
Notes: Look for additional information on Kennett's upcoming opponent and the final regular-season district football standings in an upcoming edition of the Daily Dunklin Democrat.