Just one week removed from turning the football over five times and giving up four touchdowns in the last seven minutes of the game against Walnut Ridge, Cave City welcomed the Southside Southerners to town for the annual 167 Showdown with their old friends from Independence County.
But on this night in week number two of the season, there was to be no rash of turnovers by the host team, nor was there to be a late-game scoring explosion from the visiting team.
The Cavemen hung onto the football and gave up just one touchdown in the entire second half in their 34-20 victory over the Southerners Sept. 12 in Cave City.
The Class 4A Southerners won the first 167 Showdown in 2006 by a count of 43-22, while Cave City bounced back last year with a 36-34 victory.
And from the outset, it looked like the third edition of the clash would be another catch-me-if-you-can kind of affair, featuring plenty of points at a fast and furious pace, just as the first two go-rounds were.
Cave City (1-1) running back Tyler Engleman had another big night running behind the massive Caveman offensive line, as he ran for five touchdowns and 204 yards on 24 carries against Southside (1-1).
And it didn't take Engleman and Cave City long to get rolling, as the Cavemen hit pay-dirt in three plays to open the game.
Engleman chipped off a 10-yard run on his first touch of the night, followed by a 24-yard pass over the middle from quarterback Dalton Carpenter to tight end Oscar Calderon. Then, Engleman finished what he started with a 26-yard TD run with barely a minute into the game. The 2-point conversion was stopped, but the home team was on top 6-0 with 11:02 left in the first quarter.
The Cavemen tacked on another touchdown on their next possession.
On third-and-1 from the Southside 24, Engleman scampered down the right sidelines into the end zone at the 5:06 mark of the first. The 2-point try was again no good, but Cave City extended its lead to 12-0 after one.
The Southerners, giving up the Spread offense they have preferred in the past for a double-wing set that looks a lot like Cave City's this year, got on the board early in the second quarter.
Quarterback Jared Dahl wrapped up a 12-play drive with a QB sneak on third-and-goal from the 2 at the 10:07 point of the second quarter. The 2-point conversion was no good, leaving the Cavemen in front 12-6.
It looked like Cave City would cash in on its third straight possession, but a 30-yard touchdown run from Engleman was called back due to a block-in-the-back penalty, forcing the Cavemen to punt for the first time in the game.
Tyler Woods' punt pinned the Southerners deep in their own territory and Cave City held Southside to a three-and-out, forcing the Southerners to punt.
Dakota Tuggle returned the punt 20 yards, to the Southside 10, setting up a 5-yard TD by Engleman two snaps from scrimmage later. Carpenter hit Tyler Asberry with a 2-point pass, moving Cave City in front 20-6 with 1:46 left in the first half.
Which was plenty of time for Southside to edge closer.
On fourth-and-2 near midfield, Dahl hit Tyler Sarenceno with a 49-yard touchdown pass over the middle with 48 ticks left. The 2-point conversion was stopped and the teams went to intermission with Cave City in front 20-12.
Southside came out of the locker room and put together a clock-consuming, 16-play drive to start the third quarter. The Southerners drove all the way to the Cave City 11-yard line, when on fourth-and-5, Alan Wright came up huge for Cave City with a sack of Dahl for a 10-yard loss, giving the Cavemen possession of the ball.
Then it was Cave City's turn to chew up some clock.
It was also time for the dreaded fourth quarter, which cost the Cavemen big-time in week one, as they allowed Walnut Ridge to dominate the frame and come from behind for victory.
But things were different in week two.
The Cavemen ended a 13-play drive with Engleman's fifth score of the evening, this one a 5-yard blast on third-and-2 at the 10:05 mark of the fourth.
The Southerners made things interesting by driving 60 yards on their next touch for another TD run from Dahl, this one on a 3-yard keeper with 4:08 left in the game. Dahl then hit Justin Moser on the 2-point conversion, pulling Southside within six, 26-20.
Southside tried to squib the ensuing kickoff, but Paden Day fielded the kick for the Cavemen.
Cave City put the game away with an insurance touchdown on the ensuing possession, on a 24-yard TD run up the middle of the field by Chase Gorman (48 yards rushing) with 1:37 left to play. Engleman carried in the 2-point conversion to make the score 34-20, Cave City.
As added icing to go along with the 167 Showdown trophy, Tuggle picked off a Dahl pass to end Southside's next possession.