COLUMBIA — Hickman football struggled through a terrible offensive second half and what coach Jason Wright called extreme "lack of focus" for the entire game. But the Kewpies still defeated the Helias Crusaders 20-17 Friday night.
After taking a fairly commanding 20-7 halftime lead behind 120 rushing yards (Will Owens led the offense, finishing with 22 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown), the Kewpies struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the 2nd half.
It wasn’t the style of game that coach Jason Wright wanted to see his team play, but he was quick to point out where his focus was after the game.
“It’s a team game and we picked each other up tonight,” Wright said. “A win is a win and we are 4-1.”
Wright said his team lacked focus in the second half, which led to a rash of crucial penalties and missed opportunities on both sides of the ball.
The lack of focus was especially evident on the Kewpies first defensive drive of the second half.
After some nice plays by the Hickman defensive line to pressure Helias quarterback Zach Rackers into some bad throws, the Crusaders elected to go for a fourth-and-eight from the Hickman 25-yard line.
It looked like the Kewpies were about to make a tackle on Helias running back Greg Lorang, but he slipped through a crease and ran for a score that cut the lead to 20-14.
That 25-yard play made the Crusaders 7 out of 10 on third and fourth down conversions up to that point – a major reason why Helias was able to stay in the game.
“We made a lot of silly mistakes and lost our focus a lot,” Wright said.
After the Crusaders opening drive of the second half, the teams traded possessions for the rest of the game with a field goal by Helias the only other score.
“We weren’t surprised by it, but Helias really didn’t give up.” Wright said. “Our defense stood tall, though.”
Hickman's defense couldn't ensure there wasn’t high drama at Robert LeMone Field in the games final minutes, though.
With only two minutes left, Hickman quarterback Logan Fitch, who was 10-16 with 126 yards for two total touchdowns and an interception, threw an errant pass on a 3rd and 31 that was intercepted and returned to the Helias 47-yard line.
The Kewpies defense then made one final stand.
After a first-down incompletion, senior defensive lineman Josh German made the biggest defensive play of the game, a 15-yard sack on Rackers as he was rolling to his left.
“In that last huddle we had our backs up against the wall," said German, whose sack helped ensure the Kewpies would advance to 4-1. “We had to suck it up and keep our poise.”
Hickman travels to Kansas City next Friday to take on the undefeated No.1 Rockhurst Hawklets.