EAST PRAIRIE -- A 15-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Mikey Russell gave the East Prairie Eagles a 10-6 win over the visiting Charleston Bluejays on Friday night in yet another benchmark for the history of the 'Battle for Mississippi County.'
Trailing by just three points with just over two-and-a-half minutes left in the game, the Eagles converted on a fourth-and-six to give them their second lead of the night.
With still plenty of time remaining for the Bluejays to score the Eagle defense ensured the victory on the next drive.
Desperately trying to move the ball up the field to give them a chance at their first win on the season, Charleston found themselves down to their last chance on fourth and long. With 13 yards to gain for the first down and standing on their own 17 yard line, Charleston quarterback Jamaul Gray kept looking and looking until finally taking off for it himself. Gray rushed 40 yards up the field getting the first down and enough for later. East Prairie's Dalton Golightly made the hit on Gray which popped the ball in the air only to be covered by Eagles defender Alan Miller to seal the win for East Prairie.
"Defense came up big right there," East Prairie head coach Jason Aycock said. "We got perfect coverage and just let a fast quarterback go and, man, he was lightening. But, they came up big when we needed them."
Appreciating the effort, Charleston head coach Jeremy Helton said it was a great play but would have liked it if the sophomore would have downed the ball when he seen enough yards were gained for the first down.
"He's a good athlete -- you could see that on that play," Helton said. "He made an outstanding play. He's got to understand the situation there. I'm sure we'll talk about that and he feels as bad as anybody. He was trying to gain a couple of extra feet there when we really didn't need a couple extra feet. That's one of those things where you live and you learn.
He also had a lot to do with us being in the position to win the game in the first place. He really has come around this year and has really helped us way more than I ever thought he would."
A 6-yard run by Akeem Sharp put the Bluejays up 6-3 in the second quarter and was able to hold the lead for the majority of the 'Battle for Mississippi County'.
Maurice Moore led the Bluejays with 96 yards on 17 carries. Most of which came by simple runs up the middle where he would gain seven to eight yards a carry and break many tackles in the process of doing it. Moore also caught two passes for 22 yards.
"He's got a lot of ability," Helton said about Moore "He really ran the ball well. He's a good, tough runner. In our offense he's the type of fullback I'm looking for."
Sharp added 37 yards on eight carries to go along with his score.
East Prairie's Zach Shipman had 20 carries for 111 yards while Aaron Miller rushed for 58 yards.
After winning their first district game of the season, East Prairie will now go on to face the Caruthersville Tigers who has the second best record in their district behind the Eagles.
"There's no doubt that Caruthersville is probably the pick to win the district," Aycock said. "They definitely fast and we're going to have to step up and play some good, ground-control ball."
Charleston, however, will look to rebound from this tough loss and take on their second district foe, the Malden Greenwave.