Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
Last year, Jefferson City’s season ended with a loss to a Columbia team it had beaten in the regular season. Friday night, the Jays wasted no time avoiding a similar fate.
Jefferson City forced a three-and-out and scored five play plays later to kick-start a 39-0 defeat of Hickman in the opening round of the Class 6 District 3 Tournament.
“I’m appreciative of the players, because they made a commitment last year after our season was over that (Week 10) was a very important game to them,” Jays coach Ted LePage said. “Now, I think it’s the enthusiasm we carry forward. From here on out, it’s nothing but extra, and it’s a lot of fun.”
The win puts Jefferson City ahead of Hickman in the all-time series (54-53-1) for the first time, according to LePage.
The Jays offense began its day at Jefferson City’s 48, and Elijah Pittman scored on his third run of the drive from 20 yards out. Pittman ran for three touchdowns and 113 yards on 20 attempts.
Jefferson City started building its cushion with a quick nine-point swing. On the first play of the second quarter, Tekoah Sage sacked Hickman back Carter Nicoli for a safety, and Darryl Williams took the ensuing free kick back 79 yards for a touchdown. It was Williams’ third kickoff return touchdown of the season.
Zach Bond caught the first of his two interceptions on the night to end the next Hickman drive, and the Jays drove 40 yards for a 22-yard J.T. Bohlken field goal.
Then, Bond snatched his second interception on an underthrown ball by Nicoli.
Things got no better for Hickman in the second half.
The Kewpies sent a squib kick the Jays’ way to start the third quarter, and linebacker David Rogers took his first-ever touch back 69 yards for a score to put Jefferson City up 26-0.
The Jays forced a punt on the next drive, and then needed just three plays to score again. Quarterback Isaac Roling ran for 34 and 2 yards, and Pittman punched in an 11-yard touchdown run.
Hickman responded by turning the ball over on downs when Jermiez Booker sacked Nicoli on fourth-and-4.
The Jays capped off the night’s scoring on the following drive, which began on their own 47-yard line. Pittman ran in his third touchdown of the night from 3 yards out, though the PAT attempt failed because of a low snap.
The Jays had no problem putting pressure on Nicoli, who was sacked nine times.
“Any time we can get the quarterback, put him on the ground behind the line of scrimmage, that’s just another gain for our momentum,” LePage said.
Jefferson City held Hickman to 145 total yards on the night, and Kewpie tailbacks Cameron Wright and Elijah Crum were held to a combined 2.2 yards per carry.
The Jays, meanwhile, put up 234 offensive yards, including 190 on the ground. The Jays largely stuck with their read-option playbook, and it paid off.
In addition to Pittman’s big night, Roling contributed 68 yards on the ground on seven attempts (9.7 avg.).
”He’s gotten so much better this year, and he’s got a lot of confidence,” LePage said of Roling’s ability to run the option. “The thing that was helping us tonight is he was finishing runs. His running ability helped us tonight. He, last week, I think was a little hesitant at times playing against Rockhurst, and this week it seemed like he was streamlining downfield, and that’s what we need him to do.”
Bohlken, who set a school record earlier this year with a 51-yard field goal, sent a punt 67 yards in the second half.
The Jays now will host Fort Zumwalt West, which defeated Rock Bridge 62-41 on Friday.