Ground and pound: Hawks control line of scrimmage, flatten Cardinals with running game

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Quincy University running back JQ Brown runs away from the William Jewell defense on a 68-yard touchdown burst to open Saturday's game in Liberty, Mo. | Photo courtesy Jeb Jarman

LIBERTY, Mo. — After the Quincy University football team rushed for more than 200 yards against Truman State, Hawks coach Gary Bass figured he needed to see his offensive linemen in a different light.

“I was like, ‘Damn, maybe that group’s better than I give them credit for,’” he said.

Saturday, they delivered another statement effort.

The offensive line paved the way for the Hawks to rush for 283 yards and three touchdowns in rolling over William Jewell 41-28 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference victory at Liberty North High School. 

QU (5-2, 2-1 GLVC) averaged 6.4 yards per carry with three of its top four ballcarriers each averaging better than 7.2 yards per carry. It enabled the Hawks to build a 41-7 lead two minutes into the fourth quarter before sitting all the starters on both sides of the ball.

“I wanted to make sure we got out of there healthy,” Bass said.

Staying healthy has been a critical part of the offensive line’s success.

The line lost returning starter Lucas Sartori to a leg injury in the preseason, but the five starters — sophomore left tackle Nathan Smith, junior left guard Mason Petty, junior center Cade Cameron, junior right guard Shahzada Durrani and junior right tackle Austin Dearing — have played every game together this season.

“They’ve gone out and done their job every week,” Bass said.

They set the tone immediately against William Jewell.

On the second play from scrimmage, running back JQ Brown found a seam between the tackles, reached the second level of the defense and outran the Cardinals for a 68-yard touchdown. William Jewell answered with a four-play, 48-yard drive that led to a Taylor Eggers 1-yard touchdown run that tied the game.

The Hawks then took the lead for good.

Junior quarterback Drake Davis capped a 68-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown run, and he connected with Anthony Gilpin Jr. on a 60-yard touchdown pass for a 21-7 edge.

A defining two-minute stretch occurred at the end of the half. The Hawks finished a 10-play, 76-yard drive with Jadon Washington’s 2-yard touchdown run with two minutes remaining in the half. William Jewell went three and out, leading to a 52-yard drive featuring a 39-yard touchdown pass to Marlin Washington with 20 seconds left.

The Cardinals fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Hawks’ Jonathan Van Hook recovered at the William Jewell 38-yard line. It led to Michael Owens’ 45-yard field goal as time expired.

“Offensively, we got after them,” Bass said. “When we are running the ball well and we have a quarterback who is taking care of the ball, we’re able to help ourselves out.”

Owens added a 35-yard field goal less than two minutes into the fourth quarter to make it 41-7.

By then, the defense had done its job, too. Sophomore linebacker Brock Inman and junior linebacker David Lewis both intercepted passes, senior defensive lineman David Tabakovic had a sack and the rest of the defense limited the Cardinals to 144 total yards in the first three quarters.

“We were able to get the starters out of there and get them some rest and keep them healthy after that effort,” Bass said.

QU finished with 526 yards of total offense, getting 111 yards rushing from Brown and 78 from Washington. Davis threw for 243 yards with Washington grabbing five catches for 76 yards. It sent the Hawks home with some momentum with nationally ranked Indianapolis coming to QU Stadium next Saturday.

The No. 13 Greyhounds beat No. 19 Truman State 38-17 at Stokes Stadium in Kirksville, Mo., on Saturday.

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