The Truman football team nearly gave itself a much-needed pick-me-up early in Friday’s Senior Night contest against Columbia Hickman.
When the defense pressured Columbia Hickman quarterback Jeaven Brown and forced him to throw it before he wanted to, the officials threw a flag and called Brown for intentional grounding, which resulted in a safety.
That narrowed the gap to 6-2 and the Patriots were about to get the ball back – until they didn’t. Truman muffed the ensuing free kick and the Kewpies recovered. That was one of five special teams mistakes for the Patriots that led to Hickman running away with a 48-10 victory at Truman High School.
“Special teams was definitely an issue tonight,” Truman coach Charlie Pugh said. “We have to get better at that for sure.”
The muffed punt eventually led to Brown hitting wide receiver LJ Williams on a fly route for a 53-yard touchdown pass which made it 14-2 after Brown ran it in for the two-point conversion. The Kewpies also recovered the ball on four kickoffs, one was on a pooch kick that went about 20 yards; one was on a kick that went to about the Truman 30 in which the Patriots failed to pick up the ball; and two were on “accidental onside kicks,” which came when Hickman was up by 24 and 34 points, respectively, according to Kewpies head coach Cedric Alvis.
“Those were 100 percent an accident,” Alvis said. “None of those were a called onside kick. Those were called to be deep right. Any time you can get the ball back on special teams, it’s huge for us whether it’s intentional or not.
“We’re going to have to work on that before the playoff because we won’t be recovering those then. All those accidents need to be cleaned up. We need to get better at kicking the ball downfield.”
Add three turnovers on offense to the special teams mistakes, and it was a rough night for Truman (1-7).
Truman scored its only touchdown with 44.6 seconds left in the first half. After an interception by Drake Hawley set up the Patriots at the Hickman 28, sophomore quarterback Zane Anderson, who had filled in for injured starter Carter Brown, connected with Hawley on a 7-yard TD pass to cut Hickman’s lead to 22-10.
“Drake is just a constant worker, man,” Pugh said. “He always does everything right and does what you ask him. He doesn’t say much, but goes to work every day.”
Brown, showed his versatility as he connected on 6 of 17 passes for 170 yards and four TDs and he also ran it nine times for 38 yards and a score. If that wasn’t enough, late in the game, he switched places with wide receiver TJ Turner, whom he connected with on a 48-yard scoring pass in the third period. He caught two passes for 42 yards from Turner and also had an interception on defense.
“My position before I came here was receiver,” Brown said. “I love playing receiver and I am used to it. But I have that mentality that I can do whatever my coach needs me to do. I am getting recruited by colleges as an athlete. If they need me to play receiver, I will. You need me to play defense, I will. I love this sport so much not to play any position on the field.”
Alvis agreed as he’s been impressed with Brown in his first year as quarterback.
“(Brown) is someone you want to keep on the field because he’s a (heck) of an athlete,” Alvis said. “He’s done an amazing job at quarterback. His reads are getting better, his delivery is getting better and he’s throwing it with more confidence.”
Brown got plenty of help from senior running back Felix Pippenger, who rushed for 153 yards on 21 carries, as he fell short of his lofty goal he set before the game.
“My goal was to come in and get 250 yards,” Pippenger said, who was averaging 5.5 yards per carry coming into Friday. “They obviously watched film, and that’s what they needed to do as a team. My offensive line did their job, especially in the second half.”
But it was all Hickman after that as the Kewpies scored 26 unanswered points, which included a 5-yard TD run and a 13-yard scoring pass for Turner.
Williams caught three passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns for the Kewpies (3-5). Hawley caught three passes for 42 yards and junior Dimitri Smith carried the ball 16 times for 51 yards for a Truman offense that was stymied by a Hickman defense that constantly stacked the box with eight or nine defenders.
“They have some really big dudes up front like that Aaron Porter kid,” Alvis said. “They also move very well, so we felt like we had to outnumber them in the box.”
Porter had a fumble recovery and Quincy Potts had an interception for the Patriots.