COLUMBIA — Friday was a night for new beginnings for the Hickman Kewpies.
The first game played on the newly dedicated Robert M. LeMone Field was also the first ever meeting between the two schools. But the results were all too familiar for the Kewpies, a 34-9 loss to the visiting Timberland Wolves.
The Kewpies got off to the fast start they've become accustomed to at home, going ahead 7-0 on a 42-yard run by quarterback Matt Herman on their first play. But the Kewpies couldn't sustain their momentum on homecoming night.
Sophomore running back Ryan Asbury dropped a pass inside the Timberland 10-yard line, stalling a 60-yard Kewpie drive that forced Hickman to kick a field goal with 11:56 remaining in the second quarter to go up 9-7.
Those would be the last points for Hickman.
"When we get in the red zone, we've got to learn that we need to finish," Hickman head coach Jason Wright said. "We've got to concentrate harder and makes plays."
Hickman had several chances to do that throughout, but whenever the Kewpies tried to sustain a drive, penalties and turnovers shut them down.
The Kewpies turned the ball over four times in the second half, including two interceptions by Herman. One of those came in the Timberland end zone late in the fourth quarter.
Timberland running back and Wisconsin commit Montee Ball put on a show throughout. He rushed 33 times for 209 yards with three touchdowns for the Wolves. The Kewpie defense used five down linemen to try to contain Ball, and it was effective for a majority of the first half. Ball had 87 yards on 16 carries at halftime, but the Kewpie defense managed to limit his big runs.
Timberland continued to pound the ball, however, and the front seven wore down as the game progressed.
"That's kind of our strength, so we play to it," Timberland head coach Craig Collins said. "We've got some good offensive linemen and a heck of a running back behind them, so we feel if we can pound it, we're going to wear you down over the course of the game."
No matter what the Kewpie defense did, Ball couldn't be stopped. Early in the fourth quarter, Hickman junior linebacker Josh Williams stopped Ball for seemingly no gain before Ball dragged the 225-pounder three extra yards.
The Kewpies keyed on Ball throughout the game, but stacking the box allowed the Wolves to make a few big plays in the passing game.
Senior wide receiver James Wofford hit Justin Weiss wide open on an 84-yard reverse pass with 10:51 remaining in the second quarter.
"I'd flow to the left, and the whole defense would come right with me," Ball said. "I knew my wide receivers would be open."
Weiss' touchdown brought the score to 13-9 and the Wolves never looked back. Ball would add three touchdown runs of 10, 11 and 48 yards.
Wright knew the risk of putting so many defenders near the line of scrimmage, but the Kewpies knew their only option was to try to limit Ball.
"I told our kids, that they had to make somebody else beat them," Wright said. "Teams say that every week, that you have to make somebody else beat you, and they executed very well in the passing game."
Despite the loss, the Kewpies were more satisfied with their performance than they've been in past weeks.
Wright praised the effort his players put forth after struggling last week against Park Hill. "I thought that the effort was definitely there this week," Josh Williams said.
"We all played as hard as we could. He's just a phenomenal back."