DU QUOIN -- On a cold and windy Friday night the Du Quoin Indians were hit by the perfect storm -- a dominating Anna-Jonesboro run game and one perfect pass -- to lose 6-0 in a River-to-River Mississippi Division defensive battle.
"We were close, but close doesn't get you wins," Du Quoin coach Derek Beard said. "We had a couple of bad practices defensively this week, so I've got to do a better job preparing them. All we can do is refocus and come back on Monday ready to work."
The loss dropped the Indians to 1-2 on the season and 1-1 in the division while the win was the first of the season of the Wildcats after two losses. Anna-Jonesboro and Du Quoin are tied in the division standings.
"I didn't care what their scores were coming in -- those things don't matter," Beard said. "We just got to be able to make stops and get off the field."
The Indians still had a chance to win as late as 2:42 left in the game thanks to a clutch Indian defense that recovered a fumble, got the ball back on a fourth down stop and forced two punts after the Wildcats scored on their first series. A-J's other two series ended the first half and the game.
On the flip side the stat sheet was dominated by the Wildcats starting with the time of possession (33:25 to 14:16) and the number of offensive plays (58-36) which made the play of the Du Quoin defense even more impressive considering how much time it spent on the field.
The Wildcats racked up 253 yards led by fullback Barry Johnson's first 100-yard game of the season -- 102 yards on 22 carries. As a team, the Indians managed only 57 yards on 17 carries as a team.
"We were worried all week that they could keep our offense off the field and that's exactly what they did," Beard said. "We knew what they wanted to do and we couldn't solve it."
The Indians won the passing category with junior quarterback David Lee completing 10 of 19 passes for 71 yards. Wildcats quarterback junior Gavin Osman threw only two passes, completing one, but it was his only completion that won the game.
Lee led the Indians in rushing with 31 yards on seven carries. Junior running back Nick Brown finished with 31 total yards -- 15 yards rushing and 16 yards receiving. Junior wide receiver Cade Hutchens caught four passes for 36 yards.
"I'm going to give some credit to Nick Brown," Beard said. "We didn't have Lane Bauman (who is) still nursing a groin injury, so he started and had a great first half. He's a diabetic and his blood sugar went way up, so he had to sit out for a while. He feels bad, but he's given us everything he's got. I'm just proud as heck of that kid for coming back in the game."
The game started with the Indians on their own 20 after the opening kickoff was downed in the end zone. Facing a 3rd-and-1 Lee successfully got the first down on a quarterback sneak, but the Indians were flagged for a rarely called aiding the quarterback penalty that cost them five yards and forced a punt on 4th-and-6 after Lee couldn't connect in the right flat on the replayed third down.
Anna-Jonesboro took over on their own 43 and 13 runs later the Wildcats were at the Du Quoin 10 facing 4th and 4. An illegal procedure penalty moved the ball back to the 15 where Anna-Jonesboro coach Brett Detering called a timeout to go over his options.
When play resumed Ozman took the snap and instead of handing off for the 14th straight time he kept it and lofted a perfect pass into the right corner for Nate Baggett to haul in for the game's only touchdown.
The extra point kick was low and was blocked leaving the Wildcats with a 6-0 lead.
After Brown returned the kickoff 22 yards, the Indians took over on its own 37 and went on a long drive of its own mixing five passes and five runs to set up a 1st and goal at the Anna-Jonesboro 10.
On first down Brown was stuffed for no gain. After Lee gained four yards on a draw, Jakob Eaton was stopped for no gain on a pitch to the right. Facing 4th down at the 6 year line, Lee threw to a wide open Gavin Fisher in the left corner of the end zone but the pass went off his hands.
The Wildcats took over and ate up the remaining 6:30 of the half on 15 consecutive runs, including 34 yards by Osman on eight carries. The half ended at the Du Quoin 40.
The Indians had the ball only once in the third quarter for five plays and 32 yards, using just 1:53 on the clock. The Wildcats opened the second half running off using up 7:42 on a 13-play drive that started on its own 20 and ended at the Du Quoin 22 when Eli Colbert recovered a fumble.
The Wildcats ran out the final 2:16 of the third quarter and the Indian defense forced a punt 15 seconds later to open the fourth.
The Indians took over at the 18 and drove to the Wildcat 45, but three passes netted just two yards and Lee overthrew Hutchens along the right sideline on fourth down to end that drive.
The Indian defense came up big again four plays later with Ethan Hill tackling Josh Davis in the backfield for a two-yard loss to give the ball back to Lee and the offense at the 50 with 6:58 left in the game.
However, that drive went nowhere as the offense gained just two yards in three plays thanks to a five-yard illegal procedure penalty. Lee then went back to Hutchens on the same play he overthrew earlier and this time the ball just went off the junior's fingertips around the Wildcats 20 with an open field to the end zone in front of him.
Hill stopped the Wildcats again on third down forcing a punt with 3:11 remaining. The offense took over at its own 17, but two plays later the Indians gave up the ball on a fumble following a 10-yard completion at its own 30. The Wildcats ran out the final 2:42 to preserve the six-point victory.
Anna-Jonesboro 6 0 0 0 -- 6
Du Quoin 0 0 0 0 -- 0
First Downs: A-J, 16; DQ, 6.
Penalties/Yards: A-J, 11/80; DQ, 6-40.
Fumbles/Lost: A-J, 2-1; DQ: 1-1.
Rushing attempts/yards gained: A-J, Barry Johnson 22/102; Gavin Osman 16/71, Josh Davis 6/39, Nate Baggott 6/26, Carson Pengress 5/17. DQ, David Lee 7/31; Nick Brown 7/15; Konner Harris 2/11, Jakob Eaton, 1/0.
Passing: A-J, Osman 1-2-0-15-1TD. DQ, Lee 10-19-0-71-0TD.
Receptions/yards gained: A-J, Baggott 1/15 and 1TD. DQ, Cade Hutchens 4/36, Nick Brown 2/16, Owen Bradley 2/5, Gavin Fisher 1/10, Gage Green 1/4.