Kewpies nearly come home with victory over undefeated Hornets

2 months 1 day 22 hours ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 12:36:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
By: Joseph Hernandez, The Columbia Missourian

There is 5:40 left in the game. North Kansas City's Ronaldo Calderon kicks a field goal to give the Hornets a 38-35 lead.

Hickman's offense has been rolling since the end of the first quarter. It responds to a quick start by North Kansas City by putting up 22 unanswered points and holding the Hornets offense to seven points for the remainder of the half.

Jevean Brown, Felix Pippenger, TJ Turner and the rest of the Kewpie offense find the uncovered spots and in some cases, even the tightly covered spots in a Hornets' defense that held Truman to 18 points last Friday.

It's Homecoming night and the crowd is alive the entire game. On the field, Hickman's coaching staff does its best to keep the crowd involved.

Something feels different about this game. A Hickman team usually counted out early and often has undefeated North Kansas City right where it wants it.

The last drive starts at Hickman's 28-yard line after the kick return is fielded at the 12-yard line.

Ten plays, three first downs, a couple of face mask penalties, timeouts and 4:50 on the game clock gone, it's fourth-and-10 and it all comes down to this.

Brown lines up in the shotgun with an empty backfield. Pippenger, LJ Williams, Talin Kemp, TJ Turner and Devin Turner are his wide receivers.

Brown hesitates, pump-fakes and is chased out of the pocket. He evades North Kansas City's defense and finds space to wind up and throw.

Kemp is right there in the end zone. It looks like it's going to fall right into his hands. Hickman is going to take the lead with 38 seconds left.

The Kewpies are going to sting the Hornets and put an end to their undefeated start.

Then Keilan Powell appears out of nowhere and deflects the ball down to the ground. 

The crowd is silent. Hickman's offense and sideline are stunned.

One victory formation play later and the Hornets leave Columbia with a victory, defeating the Kewpies 38-35 on Friday.

"They're a talented team. They're undefeated for a reason," Hickman coach Cedric Alvis says. "They did a great job of taking away things that we wanted."

"We were three points away. Ten yards away from celebrating instead of being upset right now," Brown says.

"We just couldn't complete the plays that we did in the first half," Pippenger says. "They got the best of us."

The drama was at an all-time high on Robert E. LeMone Field and this one is an absolute heartbreaker for a Kewpie team that rises from the grave of a 21-0 deficit with 3:43 still to play in the first quarter.

North Kansas City scores touchdowns on its first three drives and gets additional help. After an 84-yard touchdown run by Brandon Hall, Hickman's Travis Weston fumbles the ensuing kickoff return, which leads to another quick Hornets' touchdown.

The next North Kansas City drive ends in a Seth Mattly touchdown pass to John Elful to make it 21-0, and this one already looks like it's over. 

Suddenly, the plays that aren't working for Hickman's offense start to click, and it gets on the board after Pippenger weaves through multiple North Kansas City defenders for a 10-yard touchdown.

According to Alvis, there are no offensive adjustments between the first and second quarters. Pippenger adds his second rushing touchdown of the game and is later found in the right side of the end zone by Brown with 17.7 seconds left in the first half.

Pippenger finishes the game with 177 yards on the ground. The counter play Hickman runs throughout works until the end of the game, when North Kansas City's defense finally makes the adjustments it needs.

Just 25.9 seconds before Pippenger's score, Brown has his first passing touchdown of the game, finding TJ Turner wide open for a 5-yard score. Brown's second touchdown comes with the help of Hickman's tough defense, which takes advantage of a botched pitch attempt.

Brown finishes the game with 117 yards through the air and also has the rushing touchdown that ties the game. 

"(Brown's) the real deal. He's an all-state-type football player," North Kansas City head coach Leon Douglas says. "He's probably the toughest quarterback we've faced to date."

While the outcome doesn't go in Hickman's favor, the team finds its identity and will look to keep it going as the season comes to a close and it enters the playoffs. 

Hickman's next game is at 7 p.m. Friday in Independence, as it faces off against Truman.

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