Preston Eckler hauled in a desperation attempt from quarterback Lincoln Talbott on Friday night to help the Mark Twain football team open up a halftime advantage at Wright City.

The 30-yard touchdown strike provided the Tigers a 21-20 edge with one second remaining in the second quarter.

Earlier in the half, Mark Twain sophomore Jace Barton rushed for two touchdowns as part of his strong night out of the backfield. The standout finished with 130 yards on 28 carries.

One week after Mark Twain failed to score during a shutout loss to North Callaway, the first-half surge was a boost of confidence.

"It was good to see our offense coming out into true form like we’re capable of doing,” Mark Twain coach Karl Asbury said. "We were definitely moving the ball in more ways than just running the ball. We were throwing the ball pretty well too.”

Everything changed in the second half.

Host Wright City turned a trio of deep passes into three touchdowns while keeping Mark Twain off the board the remainder of the night for a 41-21 victory.

“We gave up three long passes defensively and that’s kind of the story of the night,” Asbury admitted. "We didn’t defend the pass very well. We had some guys miss some coverages. We were there at halftime. If we don’t let them have those three long passes, who knows what the score could have been?”

Avery Epperson was a force for the Tigers with 11 tackles on the night, while Talbott led the squad with 12 stops and also completed 8-of-15 passes for 141 yards.

Elliott made two catches for 60 yards, including a long play that extended the Tigers’ first scoring drive. Eckler finished with three catches for 58 yards. Nathan Davenport and Conner Grossmann combined for three receptions totaling 23 yards.

Mark Twain hosts Bowling Green this Friday.