FARMINGTON – Tyson Cox took a 60-yard reception up the right sideline for a Poplar Bluff touchdown on the first offensive play in a conference rivalry game against Farmington on Friday night.
The Mules accelerated to an early advantage with a powerful offense, and continued to attack until coming away with a 50-21 victory.
Cox finished with two touchdowns on 164 receiving yards, all in the first half. He added two interceptions and five tackles defensively. Markarrius Bell led the Mules with eight tackles, while RaShawn McCain added six.
Poplar Bluff (4-0, 1-0) scored four unanswered touchdowns during the first half, with the last being a 76-yard pass dropped in just over the shoulder of Cox by Logan Bell. Cox proceeded to carry in a fake extra point to tack on two more for a 29-0 lead six minutes before halftime.
Bell proved to be a force offensively as well, passing for 248 along with two touchdowns. He also rushed for four scores and 42 yards.
Farmington (2-2, 0-2) began throwing the ball much more toward the break, and found success through short gains. However, quarterback Nathaniel Link tucked the ball and rushed 36 yards to get within the 2-yard line.
Dylan Allen toted the ball up the middle to cut into the deficit 29-7 with 3:15 on the clock. Link ended with 205 passing yards, and two touchdowns on 49 rushing yards.
The Mules attacked through the air on the next series, but it backfired as Luke Boyd intercepted a pass across the middle on the third play of the drive to put the Knights at midfield.
A 29-yard reception from Adam Kthiri, followed by a 12-yard gain on the ground by Allen, brought Farmington just one yard away from the endzone.
Link kept the ball and got through heavy traffic to make the score 29-14 with 1:45 remaining in the half.
Kthiri lead the Knights with 98 yards on three receptions. Teddy Bankhead contributed 50 yards, and Eli Lamb totaled 33 on two catches. Tyler Barber chipped in 65 rushing yards, and Tycen Gray had 47.
Poplar Bluff remained aggressive as Logan Bell and Cox connected once again for a 28-yard gain to place the ball at the opposing 30.
Bell kept the ball on four consecutive snaps to eventually find the end zone with 19 seconds on the clock and widen the advantage to 36-14.
The Knights kept their intensity high despite trailing in the second half. They went for it on fourth down, but punter Ryan Barnes was tackled near the line of scrimmage on the trick play.
Barnes later forced a fumble that was recovered by Devan Hughes to halt a Poplar Bluff drive and give the Knights possession at their own 20 with 5:53 in the third period.
Farmington moved the ball well early in the second half, but interceptions by Cox and Myanza McCain put a stop to any momentum.
Barnes again made a key play defensively by diving on a fumbled snap to put Farmington at the Mules' 25-yard line with 3:27 in the third. He finished with five tackles as well.
Link rushed the ball in for a score on the first offensive play following the recovery to make the score 43-21.
Logan Bell returned the following kickoff all the way to the Farmington 10, breaking four tackles on the way. He then recorded the final touchdown of the contest on a 3-yard carry.