Practice pays off in the game.
The Kewpies spent two days practicing third down conversions, and their success helped them beat Rock Bridge 30-14 on Friday at Hickman.
The Kewpies will play for the Class 6 District 6 title against Jefferson City on Friday. The Bruins’ loss knocks them out of contention for the district title.
Hickman was able to convert on third downs while the Bruins’ offense stalled. The Kewpies converted on 11-of-15 third downs and punted once. Rock Bridge was 2-for-7 on third downs and punted four times.
“I mean, just overall period, they had their way with us,” Bruins coach A.J. Ofodile said.
Rock Bridge faced long third-down situations most of the night, with one shorter than 5 yards.
Hickman tight end Kyle Nuelle said his team knew third downs would be important because Rock Bridge has good linebackers, starting with Van Alexander.
“Coach (Gregg Nesbitt) really came in and said, ‘We need to execute third down because they’re going to stop us on some,’” Nuelle said. “Third down’s the key and we prepared well for it.”
Hickman’s conversions came almost at will in the second half. Hickman had the ball first in the second half and went to work, converting four third downs on a 15-play scoring drive that took seven minutes and put the game out of reach.
“You’ve got to win third down, and probably the biggest one was the first third down of the second half,” Nesbitt said.
On third-and-7 at the Hickman 35, quarterback Blake Tekotte completed a 12-yard pass to Cedric Alvis to continue the drive.
Hickman was 6-for-8 on third-down conversions in the second half. Ofodile said Hickman played well on more than third down.
“More importantly on third down, I think they did a great job on first down,” Ofodile said. “I think getting 6 or 7 yards a pop on first down makes it third-and-short, and that’s a real hard down to defend.”
Rock Bridge struggled throughout, with quarterback Chase Patton being pressured on nearly every play. The Bruins’ offense never managed a long drive, scoring one touchdown on five plays and another on two plays.
“We’re pretty good at third downs usually,” Patton said. “They were getting so much pressure and we just weren’t able to get the throws. They just did a great job preparing, I guess.”