COLUMBIA – For a brief moment, Roderick Beasley thought he had let the game slip through his hands.
Trailing Rock Bridge 7-0 late in the fourth quarter of Friday’s district semifinal game, Hickman was in the midst of a drive that spanned nearly seven minutes and 55 yards. With just over five minutes left to play, Beasley got his hands on a Mason Murray pass in the end zone, but as he hit the turf the ball flew free. Pass incomplete.
Beasley crouched down at the ten-yard line and then made his way back to huddle with his face in his hands. Two plays later, Rock Bridge took over on downs.
But, Beasley promised coach Arnel Monroe that the drop wouldn't cost the Kewpies the game. Monroe believed him.
"He came over and he said ‘Coach, I’m going to make a play,’” Monroe said. “I told him, I looked at him and I said ‘I know you will, kid. I know you will.'”
After Hickman’s defense got the ball back with just over three minutes remaining, Beasley got his redemption. With under a minute left to play, he hauled in a touchdown to tie the game, allowing the Kewpies to eventually pull out a 10-7 overtime win.
Murray had to carry his team down the field, scrambling out of the pocket four times for a total 29 yards to get his team down to the eight-yard line.
With each hit Murray took, the Kewpie fans grew louder. Chants of “We are Hickman,” and “North Side” roared from the crowd.
Murray scrambled again on third down, this time to his left. He couldn’t find any running room, so he reversed field and shot his eyes to the back of the endzone, where Beasley was alone, waiting.
“I knew everybody was going to flow with Mason,” Beasley said. “I was open for a couple of seconds. I knew if I was patient, Mason would get me the ball.”
When asked to explain the touchdown pass, Murray gave an answer with a grin on his face.
“I have no idea,” Murray said.
Beasley wasn’t finished atoning for his earlier mistake. In the opening of possession in overtime, the Kewpies kicked a field goal, leaving the game in the hands of the defense. Monroe trusted his defense to keep Rock Bridge off the board just as it had all night long.
“I’m a betting man,” Monroe said. “I’m going to bet on my defense.”
Monroe’s bet paid off. Beasley once again got his hands on a pass in the endzone, but this one was from Rock Bridge quarterback Logan Twehous.
As the packed stands on the Hickman sideline erupted in celebration, Monroe couldn’t contain his emotions. Instead of meeting with Monroe at the 25-yard line, as the team normally does after home games, the Hickman players crowded in the corner of the endzone to celebrate in front of the student section.
The win marks the only time in history that Hickman has beaten Rock Bridge twice in one season. The drama on Friday night matched that from the team’s late-game comeback at Memorial Stadium in the Providence Bowl on Sept. 21.
Monroe’s tears were duplicated.
“Outside of the birth of my children, I can’t be happier right now,” Monroe said, crying.
Monroe said he believed in his team. With players like Beasley making good on their promises, who can blame him.