COLUMBIA — Hickman football fans might have got a glimpse into the future on Friday.
Sophomore quarterback Mason Murray was inserted into the Providence Bowl with 6:15 in the third quarter trailing Rock Bridge 20-14. His first play was a first-down completion to start a drive he would later cap with a 23-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Deven Larry.
Murray played the rest of the third quarter in place of the starter Logan Fitch, who returned early in the fourth and finished the game.
“At first, I was getting a little nervous because there were all these big men around me,” Murray, who is 5 foot 9 inches and 165 pounds, said after the game. “But after that first play I started settling down and I felt a lot more comfortable.”
Rock Bridge Defensive Coordinator Justin Conyers said he expected Hickman to try to run with Murray, who is a mobile quarterback.
“Fitch is a great pocket guy,” Conyers said of the Kewpies' starter. “I thought maybe what they were doing was trying to get on the edge a little bit more and running some QB power, QB counter with him just a little bit to try to switch it up.”
Murray surprised opposing coaches with his ability to throw the ball. His 23-yard touchdown pass at the end of the third quarter brought the Kewpies back and tied the game at 20-20.
“We didn’t think they would throw with him or be willing to throw with him but he did a good job,” Rock Bridge head coach A.J. Ofodile said. Ofodile also said he knew Murray was a good athlete because he had seen him play basketball before.
“I was impressed with their belief in the young man,” Ofodile said of Hickman’s coaches.
Murray said Fitch has been helping him with passing in practice, but even Murray was surprised at his own ability.
“I didn’t expect myself to throw at first either,” Murray said. “I was just expecting to run the ball. I was glad I got to throw a little bit.”
The experience Murray earned in the game against Rock Bridge will prove to be useful in the future. The Hickman-Rock Bridge game drew more than 17,000 fans as bragging rights were on the line. Not only did he lead his team to a scoring drive, but he also took a big hit from a Rock Bridge defender in the fourth quarter, which drew gasps from the crowd.
Murray popped up quickly, though, and ran toward the sideline.
That could be a common sight in the future.