JEFFERSON CITY — Football is a game of positioning, and when weather gets thrown into the mix, it becomes a must to control.
Hickman controlled field position well in its rainy, chilly 19-7 defeat to rival Jefferson City on Friday night. But without finishing key drives, as the Kewpies found, where they were on the field did not matter.
The Kewpies twice entered the Jays’ red zone, and twice Hickman left with no points to show for it. Jefferson City took advantage and, thanks to two rushing touchdowns from senior running back Maleek Jackson, won its seventh straight meeting against its rivals from Columbia.
The ways that the Kewpies gave away their opportunities were especially brutal, and coach Cedric Alvis knew it; first, through a blocked field goal, and second, via a turnover on downs after having a second-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
“We get points on either of those drives — a touchdown, field goal, anything — it’s an entirely different ball game,” Alvis said. “We had the ball on the goal line twice. … We get points on the board, it’s a lot different.”
Heavy rain fell throughout much of the first half, and it took each team a little bit to adjust to the conditions. Both teams had two fumbles apiece on their opening drives, and dropped passes with both sets of receivers were common throughout the game.
It was Jefferson City that overcame the conditions first. The Jays secured touchdowns on back-to-back drives to end the first quarter, first through a 5-yard Jackson run and next with a 31-yard passing score from Devin Roberson to Christian White.
Meanwhile on defense, Jefferson City was getting pressure consistently to Hickman quarterback Jevean Brown, holding him to 3-of-7 passing for 43 yards in the first half. An experienced defensive line, led by Iowa State commit Corey Suttle, was keeping the Kewpie offense at bay early.
Hickman’s second half was better than its first, as the Kewpies got their touchdown on the final play of the third quarter. Brown scrambled his way in and out of pressure on a run and eventually dived for the pylon and cut into the Jays’ lead.
Unfortunately, this was also mere minutes after Hickman gave Jackson his second rushing touchdown of the game with a 41-yard score, and Jefferson City’s third.
Alvis was not a fan of the “inconsistency” from his team, as the Kewpies could not seem to string together momentum for a significant period of time.
“We get big plays, and then all of a sudden we give up big plays,” Alvis said. “We make great plays on defense, and then all of a sudden we miss tackles and give up huge yards. We gotta be consistent.”
Hickman returns home next week when it will take on Smith-Cotton. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday.