The Booneville Bearcats used a dominating defense to subdue Charleston 42-3 Friday night in their final regular season home game.
Charleston had just 24 yards of offense in the first half and only 43 in the entire game. The Bearcats (8-0, 5-0 Conference 3A-1) held Charleston (4-4, 2-3) to minus 27 yards rushing and limited Brayden Ross to 70 yards in the air on 9-of-24 passing.
The Bearcat defense also contributed to the scoring with Ethan Dobbs returning an interception of Ross 36 yards for a touchdown with 10:44 to play that made it 42-3.
It was Dobbs’ second defensive score and the team’s fourth of the season.
Two of the first three plays of the game went for negative yardage with Noah Reyes throwing Ross for a 6-yard loss and dropping Brayden Caudle for a yard loss on a third down completion by Ross.
The Bearcat offense, which would produce 521 yards of offense, saw its first possession end in a rare turnover. After turning the ball over only eight times in the first seven games, the Bearcats gave away three possessions in the opening half.
The next Bearcat possession lasted only one play as Andrew Robertson went 70 yards for a touchdown and Gavin Kent kicked the point after for a 7-0 lead.
A second Bearcat fumble in the quarter gave Charleston the ball at the Bearcat 16.
Two incomplete passes, a run for no gain and a false start later the Tigers were facing fourth and 15 from the 18 and Joshua Taggert booted a 35-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 1:46 left in the opening quarter.
Robertson returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tiger 48-yard line and four plays later Evan Schlinker hooked up with Michael Hesson for 28 yards and a touchdown to make it 14-3 with 11:53 left in the first half.
After a Tiger punt and a series of penalties on both sides – the Bearcats finished with 93 yards in penalties to Charleston’s 55 – the Bearcats made it 21-3 on a 22-yard run by Robertson with 7:12 left in the half.
Robertson carried eight times for 126 yards.
A possession later the Bearcats moved from their 5 to the Tiger 14 only to turn the ball over on downs – Booneville had 357 yards in the first half – after Dobbs was ruled to not have completed a catch for a touchdown.
The Bearcats would have one more chance before the break but Schlinker was intercepted in the end zone by Kale Fisher with 21 seconds left in the second quarter.
The second half began much the same way although the Bearcats got two fumbles back on the way to the Tiger 21 when Schlinker was flagged for passing the ball beyond the line of scrimmage on a fourth down.
Three plays later Robertson sacked Ross and caused a fumble that he would also recover at the Tiger 11.
Carson Ray scored the next play to make it 27-3.
Ray would run for 139 yards on 18 carries.
Charleston used a 24-yard Ross to Kaden Benge completion to move into Bearcat territory on the ensuing possession but Reyes threw Ross for a yard loss on a fourth-and-1 to end the threat.
The Bearcats then went 70 yards in seven plays with Hesson scoring from the 4 with 10:59 to play. Schlinker hit Gave Fennell for a 2-point conversion to get score back on a multiple of 7 at 35-3.
Hesson was the third back to reach the century mark, finishing with 100 yards on 14 carries.
Dobbs intercepted a pass that caromed off a receiver’s hand and took it back for a touchdown on the play following the ensuing kickoff and it was 42-3.
The Bearcat second offense failed on a fourth-and-8 and Charleston nex had the ball at the Booneville 40 but was forced to punt for the eighth time. The Tigers were 1-of-14 on third down and managed only four first downs.
The Bearcats will be on the road this week facing 8-0 Lamar. The Warriors beat Mansfield 15-7 in Mansfield last week to set up the battle of the unbeatens.