Gregg Nesbitt had seen enough of Rock Bridge quarterback Chase Patton on film.
The Hickman Kewpies kept Patton on the sideline for all but 16 minutes Friday night at Hickman. With the Bruins high-powered offense off the field, the Kewpies ended the Bruins’ postseason hopes with a 30-14 victory.
The win gives the Kewpies a chance at the District 6 Class 6 championship. Hickman will play for the title Friday against the Jefferson City Jays, who beat the Kickapoo Chiefs 21-7 on Friday.
When Patton was on the field, he struggled. Patton threw two interceptions and misplayed a snap that bounced into the end zone, which Hickman recovered for a touchdown. The Kewpies held the Bruins to no yards rushing.
Hickman’s runners shined, though. Behind the strong play of his offensive line, running back Brandon Kendrick rushed 26 times for 146 yards and a touchdown.
With Kendrick racking up yards on the ground, Hickman (6-3, 2-0) controlled the ball, running 75 plays to Rock Bridge’s 39. Rock Bridge dropped to 7-2, 0-2
“We knew we had a good O-line, big and strong,” Hickman tight end Kyle Nuelle said. “We knew that if we got off the ball and pushed we could run the ball. Brandon Kendrick did a good job in picking up the hole and trusting his lineman and running hard.”
Nesbitt, the Hickman coach, said he stressed the running game in practice.
“We couldn’t have drawn it up any better,” Nesbitt said. “It’s still football, in its simplest form. You still got to block, you still got to tackle. Tonight we were able to control the line of scrimmage, knock them off the football, keep the ball for extended periods of time.”
Patton struggled to find open receivers while the Kewpies constantly pressured him. Hickman sacked Patton twice, and Nuelle and Cedric Alvis made interceptions.
“Our coaches did a lot of work this week coming up with a stunt package that we thought we could win with,” Nuelle said. “We prepared well, had an excellent week of practice, and ran it (the way) that we thought.”
Patton finished 19-of-30 for 224 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Patton struggled in the second half, completing four passes for 29 yards.
“They won it with their desire and their intensity to get after us,” Patton said. “They brought a bunch of pressure and we had to get the ball out a lot quicker than we’re used to.”
The Kewpies forced Patton out of the pocket all night, and the Bruins could not move the football.
“We pressured and harassed Chase enough,” Nesbitt said. “He’s a great football player, just to keep him from getting into a rhythm. The key was getting him out of the comfort zone.”
The Kewpies capitalized on three Rock Bridge turnovers, leading to 10 points.
With 2:23 left in the first half, Patton fumbled the handoff. The ball bounced back into the end zone where Hickman’s Josh Sallee recovered for a touchdown.
On the next Rock Bridge drive, Nuelle intercepted Patton. The Kewpies then drove to the Bruins’ 14 on six plays. With 16 seconds left, Brandon Ferling kicked a 30-yard field goal to give the Kewpies a 17-7 halftime lead.
Although Rock Bridge proved Oct. 24 it was capable of rallying from a double-digit halftime deficit against Jefferson City, the Bruins and coach A.J. Ofodile could not solve Hickman’s defense.
“The bottom line is that we came out and lost to a better football team,” Ofodile said. “We lost to a team that was more physical, more prepared to play, a better-coached football team.”
The Kewpies ran 36 times for 130 yards, including a 15-play touchdown drive to open the second half. The drive lasted seven minutes and ended with Blake Tekotte’s 1-yard run into the end zone.
“It was very important for us to get the running game established,” Kendrick said. “Our O-line picked it up, they were just swarming with the blocks.”