Win over Kewpies puts Jays in state playoffs

Jefferson City’s Thomas LePage hands off to Devon Moore in Friday’s game with Hickman at Adkins Stadium. To view this and other photographs, please visit www.newstribune.com/photos.

Jefferson City’s Thomas LePage hands off to Devon Moore in Friday’s game with Hickman at Adkins Stadium. To view this and other photographs, please visit www.newstribune.com/photos. Photo by Stephen Brooks.

The Hickman Kewpies thought they were doing the right thing.

It turned out they weren’t.

Trailing 28-21 with 2:30 remaining in Friday night’s game against the Jefferson City at Adkins Stadium, Hickman called a timeout after forcing the Jays into a third-and-11 at the Kewpie 26. The idea was to get the ball back with as much time as possible left on the clock.

“We were going to be content to run it down as much as possible,” Jays coach Ted LePage said. “But that gave me time to reflect.”

And form a new plan, which worked to perfection. Sam Turner hit Jeremy Tisdel with a pass inside the 10 with no Kewpies within five yards of him and he jogged into the end zone with what proved to be the difference as the Jays went on to a 35-28 victory.

“Sam told Jeremy he’d throw it to the end zone and I told him no, throw it right to him because he’s going to be so wide-open,” LePage said. “If they didn’t call timeout, I probably wouldn’t have called it.”

With the win, the Jays (6-4) captured the runner-up spot in Class 6 District 6 and advance to Friday’s sectional game at District 5 champion Francis Howell (9-1, ranked No. 5). Francis Howell edged Pattonville 17-14 on Friday night to win its district title.

“If you’re in the bracket, you’ve got a chance,” LePage said. “We know Francis Howell is a very good football team, but this is what you work for all season.”

The Jays dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against the Kewpies. Jefferson City rushed for 377 yards (7.7 avg.), with Turner (178 yards) and Devon Moore (137) leading the way.

“We watched film and they have a great defense that has shut people down,” LePage said. “But our offensive line came ready to play.”

Defensively, the Jays sacked Kewpie quarterback Logan Fitch five times and limited the Hickman running game to just 67 yards.

“We wanted to make them one-dimensional by stopping the run,” LePage said. “We thought that would be the best way for us to win.”

A pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by Kody Walker gave the Jays a 14-0 lead midway through the opening quarter. In his first game back after missing three weeks with a foot injury, Walker had 52 yards on 13 carries.

“Kody coming back was a total lift for the team,” LePage said.

Walker left the game for a time in the third quarter with what LePage described as “a stinger” on his left side while playing defense. But the Arkansas recruit returned to the field in the fourth quarter.

Hickman trimmed the deficit in half in the final minute of the first quarter on a 39-yard pass from Fitch to Spenser Washington.

The Jays made it 21-7 on an 8-yard run by Turner with 5:02 left in the first half. The Kewpies cut it to 21-14 in the final minute on a 7-yard pass from Fitch to Dylan Rodes.

Jefferson City should have had a bigger advantage at intermission. The Jays had six full offensive possessions in the first half. Three resulted in touchdowns, the other three in lost fumbles, including two inside the Kewpie 10.

“The only thing we didn’t do well on offense was turning it over too much,” LePage said. “But it was extra effort, our backs were fighting hard and they were doing a good job of tackling the football.”

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