SIKESTON, Mo. — Whether throwing the football deep or pounding straight ahead with the rushing attack, Farmington punished the Sikeston defense throughout a lopsided Class 4, District 1 showdown on Thursday night.
The Knights capitalized on premium field position to score twice during the final minute of the first half, and captured their first district crown since 2008 with a 55-21 road victory over the two-time defending champs.
In a marquee contest that featured two of the region’s best running backs, Farmington senior Connor Davault had four rushing touchdowns while netting 158 yards on 25 carries.
James Watson countered with 154 yards on 29 attempts for the Bulldogs, whose eight-game win streak was snapped. His sudden 60-yard burst slashed Farmington’s lead to 21-14 with 3:04 to play in the second quarter.
But the Knights began their ensuing possession at the Sikeston 37 after a squib kick return by Roper Garrett, and responded via seven straight running plays as Davault broke the plane from 3 yards out with 38 seconds left.
Watson’s second costly fumble on the next snap from scrimmage was then recovered by Ethan Hennes, and Davault converted the turnover two plays later in the wildcat formation for a 34-14 halftime margin.
The Bulldogs forced a fumble when Farmington threatened to punch across the opening possession of the third quarter, but their subsequent fourth-and-1 gamble from the 25 backfired when lineman Kyle VanNess stopped Watson.
Davault extended the Farmington lead with a 1-yard run, and senior quarterback Chase Busenbark guided a pinpoint 43-yard pass to Kyle Hartrup, making the advantage 48-14 with 9:59 remaining in the contest.
“We really focused on playing fundamentally sound defense against these guys, because they are so athletic,” Farmington coach Todd Vaughn said. “I was really proud of our defense tonight.”
Farmington (9-1) clinched a home game against De Soto in Wednesday’s regional playoff round, and would host a potential sectional rematch with Sikeston (8-2) if the Bulldogs can defeat District 2 champion Hillsboro.
With Sikeston unable to establish a vertical passing threat, the Knights aggressively pursued the run. Two first-half drives by the Bulldogs stalled on downs inside the Farmington 30. The first ended on an incomplete pass after Garrett dropped Watson for a loss on third down.
“That was big for our momentum,” Vaughn said. “Anytime you get a fourth-down stop it lifts your whole team.”
Farmington was also powered by an offensive line that not only controlled the Sikeston front four in the trenches, but also provided ample protection as Chase Busenbark searched for open targets.
After the Knights forced consecutive 3-and-out series on defense, junior receiver Evan Dunivan caught a 67-yard strike from Busenbark in stride for the game’s first scoring play.
“Since that play was so early in the game, it made a big difference for our team,” Busenbark said. “The offensive line just played awesome. They allowed us to throw the ball or run it, whatever we needed to do.”
Farmington needed just 27 seconds to find the endzone again, as a fumble recovery by linebacker Brian Koppeis set up a 10-yard touchdown toss from Busenbark to Alec Sebastian.
Kyland Gross broke free on a 23-yard touchdown scamper that brought Sikeston within 14-7 following a Keldon Warfield interception. But a 53-yard strike from Busenbark to Sebastian helped the Knights answer quickly.
Busenbark finished 5-of-10 overall for 195 yards. An 11-yard run by junior Anthony Greco capped the scoring with 2:42 to play.
Doug Warren and Hennes each sacked Sikeston quarterback David Foster, who completed 14-of-26 passes for 128 yards. Gross made five receptions for the Bulldogs.
Farmington also clinched the SEMO North conference title with a 5-0 record.
Farmington 14 20 7 14 – 55
Sikeston 0 14 0 7 – 21
FARM (7-0) – Dunivan 67-yd pass from Busenbark (Davault kick), 7:21
FARM (14-0) – Sebastian 10-yd pass from Busenbark (Davault kick), 6:54
SIKE (14-7) – Gross 23-yd run (Williams kick), 5:35
FARM (21-7) – Davault 13-yd run (Davault kick), 4:04
SIKE (21-14) – Watson 60-yd run (Williams kick), 3:04
FARM (28-14) – Davault 3-yd run (Davault kick), 0:38
FARM (34-14) – Davault 3-yd run (Kick blocked), 0:12
FARM (41-14) – Davault 1-yd run (Davault kick), 5:24
FARM (48-14) – Hartrup 43-yd pass from Busenbark (Davault kick), 9:59
SIKE (48-21) – Watson 5-yd run (Williams kick), 5:20
FARM (55-21) – Greco 11-yd run (Davault kick), 2:42