TROY — After Friday's 34-20 victory over Troy-Buchanan the Hickman Kewpies might just be pleased that they have to travel to Jefferson City for next week's pivotal district match up with the rival Jays.
The Kewpies improved their overall record to 4-5 with the win, and are now 4-0 in games played away from Robert M. LeMone Field.
While two of those wins, against Gateway Tech and Vashon, were defensive struggles, sophomore Spenser Washington helped light up the scoreboard for Hickman against the Trojans.
After Troy senior Kyle Peasel returned a Matt Herman interception 38 yards for a touchdown to put the Trojans up 6-0, Washington fielded the ensuing kickoff at the 12-yard line, started left, cut to the middle of the field and behind senior safety Josh Perry's block took it 88 yards for a Hickman touchdown tying the score 6-6 with 2:39 remaining in the first quarter.
"We practice special teams a lot, probably as much as anybody in the state of Missouri, I believe," Hickman head coach Jason Wright said. "We talked about how we had to take advantage in that area."
Washington added to the Kewpies lead with his offensive production as well. With the Kewpies up 19-12 late in the second quarter, Washington caught a pass up the right seam, broke a tackle and made his way into the endzone to give the Kewpies a 25-12 lead at the break. It was Herman's second touchdown pass of the night as he went 12-of-25 for 173 yards. Herman also added 67 yard on 10 carries for the Kewpies.
"It gave us some momentum going into halftime, and to come out in the second half and compete harder," Washington said of his second touchdown.
While the Kewpies came out throwing Troy attempted to do what they do best: run the ball with junior tailback Daniel Lindemann. Lindemann came into the game with over 1,300 yards rushing, but was held to only 83 yards on 25 carries against a strong Kewpie rush defense. Senior linebacker Chaun Nebbitt was making plays around the line of scrimmage all night, and added two sacks for the Kewpies.
Hickman's ability to slow Lindemann down forced Troy quarterback Neil Branham to take the offensive load squarely on his shoulders, and Washington was there to take advantage of the sophomore's stumbles.
After spending much of the first half in the I-formation Troy came out in the third quarter in a shotgun set, and Washington intercepted three of the first four passes thrown by Branham, who finished the game 6-for-22 passing for 124 yards and four interceptions.
"For him to be able to run the ball as effectively as he is, catch the call, return kickoffs and defend the pass, he's a special player," Wright said of Washington.
With a two score lead throughout much of the second half the Kewpies grinded out the clock with an effective ground game that was led by none other than Washington. Washington had 49 yards on 11 carries on the night and was a big part of a 14-play Kewpie drive that took over six minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter.
Hickman Junior Josh Williams put the game away for good with a 60-yard touchdown run with 1:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. It was the second score of the night for Williams who had 93 yards on his seven carries.