FARMINGTON – Homecoming was far more enjoyable for the Farmington football team with brothers Royce and Rothman Harris healthy and performing at the same time.
The twin juniors, both of whom missed significant time last fall with injuries, delivered lasting efforts in much different capacities on Friday night while helping the Knights defeat Sikeston 24-6.
Royce Harris rushed 22 times for 199 yards, and was a catalyst for two explosive scoring plays during the first half as opposite split back Tycen Gray remained on crutches with his left ankle in a cast.
Rothman Harris anchored a ferocious defensive front at left end, recording three of his teams’ six total sacks and six of its 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The outcome gave Farmington (5-2, 3-1) second place behind Jackson in the SEMO North – its strongest showing since the 2011 final four campaign – along with a potential district seeding tiebreaker.
Royce Harris threw the lone pass of the night for the home team as the halfback rolling to his right, and it provided Farmington with a sudden jolt and early momentum.
Eli Lamb leaped and controlled the reception in double coverage, then broke away to finish a 33-yard touchdown on the Knights’ opening possession.
Sikeston (3-4, 2-2) hoped to bounce back from a rare loss against Charleston, but generated only two first downs over its first five drives as the offensive line struggled in pass protection.
Consecutive sacks by Alex Smith and Rothman Harris initially stopped the Bulldogs at the Farmington 35 after Tra Ranson made a nice catch over the middle for 22 yards.
Farmington forced three subsequent punts, and the contest reached an offensive lull until Royce Harris revived his squad with the longest burst of the night.
He took an option pitch from quarterback Kaden Files, slashed between two pursing men, and sprinted 86 yards down the right sideline to make it 14-0 with 5:21 to play in the second quarter.
Sikeston looked to retaliate before halftime as an excellent kickoff return by Jackson Kuykendall moved his team well across midfield and into Farmington territory.
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Daniel Lawrence gained 29 yards running a sweep on the next snap, and the Bulldogs were presented with first-and-goal from the 3 after the Knights lined up offside to move the chains.
Farmington responded with three consecutive tackles in the backfield – starting with sophomore Judd Cunningham for a 5-yard loss – then withstood a fourth-down throw to the end zone.
Sikeston quarterback Gage Rolwing was 12-of-27 overall for 136 yards under consistent pressure, and connected with Ranson on six completions for 84 yards.
Ranson made a 19-yard grab near the sideline on fourth-and-15 early in the third quarter that preceded the Bulldogs’ only points of the game. Rolwing found Lawrence moments later on a deep crossing route for a 16-yard score, cutting the margin to 17-6.
Sikeston forced a key three-and-out as the Knights refused to throw, and threatened again after keeping its next possession alive with another fourth-down conversion.
That march stalled after reaching the Farmington 39, however, as Ethan Buerck combined with returning linebacker Carson Sutton to drop Rolwing on a blitz.
Dalton Berg recorded a sack in the second quarter, and cornerback Sam Nickelson contributed to several edge tackles as the Knights stifled any hope of a steady running game.
Rothman Harris posted his third sack with less than six minutes remaining, and Farmington capitalized after making another stand at the Sikeston 38.
Files squirmed free of immediate contact on a keeper to gain 36 yards, then leaned across from the 2 to punctuate the victory with 4:21 to play.
Hudson Kuykendall registered the lone Sikeston sack. Four fumbles occurred during the action, but each was recovered by the offensive team.
Royce Harris galloped 23 yards to ignite Farmington right out of halftime. Kael Krause nailed a 37-yard field goal to make it 17-0, and later missed left on an attempt from 40.
Farmington will play its scheduled home finale next week against Class 2 powerhouse Lutheran North before wrapping up the regular season at nearby Central.