PARK HILLS – The Central football team prepared a back-up plan in the preseason as Casen Murphy recovered from an injury to his throwing arm.
After another serious setback on Friday evening, converted all-state receiver Jobe Bryant became the permanent quarterback of the Rebels for the foreseeable future.
The Rebels faced immediate adversity when Murphy suffered a dislocated elbow on their third snap of the game, and also lost explosive senior Kannon Harlow to a tender ankle before halftime.
Bryant sparked Central with two long touchdown runs in the third quarter, but a banged-up defense could not contain Cape Central running back Keyshawn Boyd down the stretch.
Boyd answered a dramatic touchdown catch by Rebels receiver Braydon Berry by racing 52 yards on the next play with 22 seconds left, and the visiting Tigers prevailed 48-41.
Jathan Spain completed 8-of-14 passes for 195 yards, including scoring strikes of 64 and 42 yards to Carter Armstrong that sent a 21-21 tie into the intermission.
Bryant slipped through the defense for a 68-yard touchdown on the second play of the third quarter, and later added a 71-yard burst for a 35-21 lead after the teams traded defensive stands.
The second long run by Bryant was set up by his own interception. Cape delivered a fourth-and-1 stop moments earlier after Jaxon Jones covered an onside kick.
Boyd ignited the visitors with a powerful 45-yard touchdown while dragging three defenders toward the end zone, and finished with 219 yards on 18 carries.
Central coaches voiced displeasure with the officiating on several occasions, including a pair of poor no-calls on clear pass interference deep in the Cape secondary.
But the Rebels also created their own hardship. Devan Graf shanked two extra points, and center Logan Murray sailed two snaps that Bryant was forced to track down for sizable losses.
The defense also struggled late without the availability of Murphy and Harlow in the secondary. The Tigers pulled even at 35-35 when Zai’Aire Thomas scored from the 1 with 5:33 remaining.
Central had to punt away the next possession, and Boyd capitalized for Cape with by breaking loose along the right side for a go-ahead 70-yard run at 41-35 with 1:14 remaining.
Bryant returned the ensuing kickoff into the red zone, but a stellar effort was voided when a horse-collar tackle was negated by a questionable call for an illegal block in the back.
The Rebels would not be denied a tying touchdown, however, as Berry reached above a defender to wrestle control of the ball away for a 45-yard equalizer.
Central blocked the previous Cape extra point, but its own kicking game was bypassed for a two-point conversion that the Tigers denied with 31 seconds on the clock.
A short kickoff was downed at the Tigers’ 48, and Boyd sealed the outcome on his fourth touchdown with two excellent sealing blocks during the next snap.
Cape Central (2-2) avoided going to overtime for a third straight week after dropping two tight battles against Hillsboro and Poplar Bluff.
Trevius Haupt and Malachi Smoot made interceptions, and Cartez Hopkins sacked Bryant twice during the same series for the Tigers’ defense.
Bryant scrambled in desperation as time expired, but was dropped inside the Cape 30 as the Central coaching staff lobbied for a tripping penalty to no avail.
The key personnel losses arrived for Central (3-1) just before entering its toughest conference tests back to back against Ste. Genevieve and Valle Catholic.
Bryant posted massive numbers for the Rebels in defeat, rushing 32 times for 270 yards. He was 18-of-28 passing for 287 yards and four touchdowns.
Murphy landed awkwardly while being flipped upside down on a draw play, and remained down for about 10 minutes before being carted off the field and taken to a local hospital.
Harlow was a force at receiver before his departure with five catches for 125 yards. He followed a 36-yard touchdown grab with a 57-yard TD to spring a 14-14 tie.
Caden Casey made a team-high seven receptions for 74 yards and a score while Berry totaled 75 yards on four catches.
Defensive end Nathan Weinhold finished with nine tackles to lead the Rebels. Jones added six stops while Jonathan Boyer and Eli Rasnic had fumble recoveries.
Farmington 35, Sikeston 8
SIKESTON, Mo. – Farmington relied on a smothering defense to cruise past Sikeston 35-8 after losing its starting quarterback to an ankle injury on Friday night.
Kaesen McClain rushed for 152 yards on 22 carries, and back-up QB Tatem Tinsley added a couple of touchdowns after Brett Drye limped off the field.
The Knights limited a Sikeston offense that attempted just two passes all game to 61 total yards, and were bolstered by two sacks from senior lineman Bryce Kathcart.
Drye engineered an opening 8-play scoring drive, and scored with a nifty cut on a 20-yard keeper after moving the chains on a 15-yard pass to Gabe Giuliani.
Farmington (3-1, 1-1) marched 75 yards on its second possession, as McClain converted a fourth-and-1 run and picked up another first down on an 11-yard gain.
Tinsley escaped a collapsing pocket to scramble 20 yards after taking over for Drye, then flipped a well-designed shovel pass to Connor Rice for an 11-yard touchdown and 14-0 lead.
Sikeston (0-4, 0-1) went three-and-out on the ensuing series after Damian Cabrera and Scott Fripp combined for a tackle in the backfield, and soon saw its deficit increase again.
Drye briefly returned for a 30-yard run before being ruled out for the remainder of the game, and Tinsley found the end zone on a fourth-down keeper from 4 yards out to make it 20-0.
The Bulldogs showed some resilience before intermission, as sacks by Keodrick Sherrod and Derric Raymond forced Farmington into a second straight punting situation.
A bad snap was covered at the 1-yard line, and Kayden Craig capitalized on a scoring sneak before the two-point conversion brought Sikeston within 20-8.
Tinsley was 5-of-9 passing for 46 yards, and picked up 62 yards on nine carries. An errant throw was intercepted by Bo Riddle to begin the third quarter.
The Bulldogs simply had no offensive firepower to rattle Farmington. Their longest gain of the game would have spanned 7 yards if not for a 40-yard burst by fullback Luke Gadberry.
McClain extended the Farmington advantage to 27-8 with a 23-yard run in the third quarter, and powered in from 34 yards during the fourth.
Kathcart applied a safety moments later to complete the scoring. Mason Propst earlier dropped a Sikeston runner for a 4-yard loss.
Ian Zohner, who kicked three field goals in the previous game against Jackson, placed two kickoffs that stopped rolling near the goal line to factor into field position.
Sam Woodson chipped in a 20-yard reception for the Knights, who will host Lift for Life in week 5.
Valle Catholic 63, Potosi 0
STE. GENEVIEVE – Valle Catholic surrendered only 2 yards of total offense in the first half, and coaxed four turnovers in a 63-0 conference rout of Potosi on Friday night.
Senior quarterback Grant Fallert was nearly perfect through the air, connecting on 10-of-11 passes for 155 yards, and matched his three passing touchdowns with three rushing scores.
His only three carries of the night reached the end zone during the first quarter, totaling 105 yards. An explosive 81-yard burst capped the opening drive.
Cohen Gibbs made it 28-0 with a 21-yard catch at tight end, and delivered a defensive impact with a sack and fumble recovery for the Warriors.
Tyler Gegg and Rylan Fallert added touchdown catches prior to a 56-0 halftime lead. Connor Clanton punctuated the win with a 75-yard scoring sprint.
Rylan Fallert made a team-high three receptions for 49 yards while Colin Henderson, Gegg and Gibbs each nabbed two catches. Alex Viox carried four times for 48 yards.
Andre Oberle made seven tackles, and added a short TD run for Valle Catholic. Wil Kuehn also tallied seven stops, including a sack, and drilled 9-of-9 extra points as the place kicker.
A.J. Basler and Gegg each produced an interception plus two other passes defended, and Zach Naeger gave Valle Catholic (3-1, 2-0) three sacks as a team.
Josh Fallert contributed six tackles with a fumble recovery, and gained 31 yards on his lone run. The Warriors will step out of conference play next week against St. Vincent.
Potosi (0-4, 0-2) will face Fredericktown in a battle of winless clubs.
Ste. Genevieve 49, Fredericktown 7
FREDERICKTOWN – Wyatt Springkamper caught two touchdown passes in the first half, and returned the third-quarter kickoff 60 yards for another score on Friday night.
Ste. Genevieve posted a 368-73 edge in total offense, and defeated Fredericktown 49-7 in an MAFC White Division contest.
Luke Ferranto completed 9-of-16 overall for 180 yards, and found Springkamper for a 28-yard strike to open the scoring. The sophomore quarterback added a 12-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Springkamper had three catches for 89 yards, and scored from 57 yards out to help the Dragons build a 27-0 lead by halftime.
Jack Farlow answered the lone scoring drive by the Blackcats with his second touchdown run from 7 yards out to restore a 42-7 margin, and gained 69 yards on 11 total carries.
Gabe Willett made a team-high eight tackles, and recovered a fumble for Ste. Genevieve (3-1, 1-0). Isaiah Basler added seven tackles, and John Finley had another takeaway.
Back-up QB Elijah Bennett threw a 36-yard TD pass to Wyatt Grein in the fourth quarter. Ethan Ottens made two receptions, and Justin Schweigert had two carries for 44 yards.
Ste. Genevieve will host Central in week 5 while Fredericktown (0-4, 0-2) faces Potosi.