KANSAS CITY — By the time Cedric Alvis turned around to chase Park Hill South wide receiver R.J. Lawson as he sprinted for the end zone, Alvis had determined he wasn’t about to get beat again.
Solid defense in the second half helped the Hickman Kewpies defeat the Park Hill South Panthers 31-20 on Friday night at Preston Field in Kansas City.
With the Kewpies leading 18-7 late in the second quarter, Lawson beat Alvis and the Hickman secondary deep for a 42-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Chase Watson. The score marked the Kewpies’ first touchdown allowed through the air and pulled the Panthers within five.
“I lost track of No. 1, the quarterback was reading me and threw it to him and I didn’t have enough time to get back,” Alvis said. “I made an oath to my secondary that would be the first and last I would get beat like that.”
Alvis and the Kewpies secondary limited Watson to 6-of-14 completions for 108 yards passing. Alvis intercepted Watson in the fourth quarter to make up for his miscue. It was the second interception in two games for Alvis, who led the Kewpies with four last season.
“In the second half we all stepped up,” Alvis said. “If (linebacker Kyle) Nuelle and all of the defense hadn’t pressured them, I’m sure I wouldn’t have intercepted it.”
Hickman (2-0) started slowly. Park Hill South (1-1) running back Sheldon Cook broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run on the third play of the game.
Hickman answered with quarterback Blake Tekotte and a balanced offensive attack. Tekotte led the Kewpies on a 63-yard drive, capped by Brandon Kendrick’s 4-yard touchdown run with 4:22 left in the first quarter.
“Their defense kind of opened up our running game,” Tekotte said. “We got some good looks on the outside and our line blocked awesome. Everyone was just playing for the guy next to him.”
The Kewpies defense forced its first turnover of the game on the first play of the Panthers’ next drive. Cook fumbled the ball and Hickman fell on it at the Pirates’ 15. The Kewpies forced three turnovers, turning them into 12 points.
“Turnovers win ball games,” Nuelle said. “It was huge for our momentum.”
The Kewpies moved ahead 18-7 with 7:15 left in the second quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Kendrick after a nine-play drive that lasted 4:39.
Tekotte scored on a 72-yard run on the first drive of the second half, putting Hickman up 25-13. Tekotte finished with 104 yards on 17 carries and was 11-of-18 passing for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Although the Kewpies’ defense allowed Cook 111 yards on 20 carries, the defense all but took away the Panthers’ running game in the second. Hickman coach Greg Nesbitt said the performance of his defensive line pleased him.
“We had a slow start, getting used to the speed of a great running back and the physicality of a really good offensive line,” Nesbitt said. “But I thought from the middle of the first quarter on we fought fire with fire and played very well up front.”
Nesbitt said victories against teams like Park Hill South are to be enjoyed.
“I’m ecstatic for our kids, they’re a great group to be around; hopeflly, they can have some wins as well,” Nesbitt said.