A stagnant offense became Trip Gibson's to run with six minutes remaining in the third quarter Saturday night.
The redshirt freshman quarterback did his best to take advantage of the situation.
Gibson, a Columbia, Mo., product, led the Quincy University football team into Truman State territory on three drives, tossing the first touchdown pass of his career while also throwing an interception. His performance served as both a learning experience and a confidence boost moving forward.
"The coaches did a good job, regardless of the fact I didn't get a lot of reps in practice because I'm second team, of speaking with clarity in meetings and providing me the knowledge for some success today," Gibson said.
Gibson made his first career appearance two weeks ago in the 55-0 loss at Indianapolis. He completed 6 of 10 passes for 28 yards and two interceptions against the Greyhounds. Last week, in the 42-7 loss to Texas-Permian Basin, he completed 1 of 2 passes for 10 yards.
So there was no reason for Gibson to expect any extensive playing time against Truman State.
However, the Hawks trailed 28-0 and had managed just 87 total yards through 2 1/2 quarters when Gibson replaced sophomore starter Andrew Rund. On his first drive, Gibson guided the Hawks 60 yards to the Bulldogs' 4-yard line. Quincy was stymied on fourth and 2, turning the ball over on downs. Still, Gibson completed 5 of 9 passes for 45 yards on the drive, including an 11-yard pass to Kody Wood on third and 10.
"When I went out there, I took it one step at a time," Gibson said. "I tried to let my receivers and my linemen help me out. They did a great job of that. Clearly, I left some things out there that I need to correct."
On his second possession, Gibson engineered a 10-play, 58-yard drive that culminated with him throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Brendan Saak. It was Gibson's first career touchdown pass and
"It felt great," Gibson said. "Saak made a great play and a great catch and a great route. I knew it was going to be wide open."
Gibson's final drive ended with an interception thrown deep in Truman State territory with a minute remaining in regulation, and he finished 11-of-21 passing for 128 yards.
"It's about going out there and executing plays," Gibson said. "When I did well, I did that. When I didn't do well, it's because I didn't do what they asked me to do."
Wood with stellar Senior Night
One of a handful of seniors to be recognized before the Hawks' final home game of the season, wide receiver Kody Wood arguably saved his best for last.
He caught seven passes for 108 yards, marking his second 100-yard effort of the season. He caught seven passes for 121 yards against William Jewell.
The highlight was a one-handed grab along the QU sideline with a defender blanketed on him during the second half.
Now the Jacksonville, Ill., product is left with two road to help leave a legacy.
"Obviously, I want to win out," Wood said. "A two-game winning streak going into spring ball for these young guys, that carries a lot more momentum than you might think. I want to see some guys go out and have some fun these next two games and play to our potential. I know we can do it. Every game is tough, but you have to believe you can go out and get two wins."
Rueckemann savors final games
Senior middle linebacker Nate Rueckemann lingered on the QU Stadium turf long after the game ended to take pictures with his family and savor what Senior Night meant to those who made this their home.
That was after he tried to keep the Hawks from letting the last home game slip away.
Rueckemann finished with nine tackles, four solo stops and three tackles for loss. He made some big hits in the second half when the Hawks limited the Bulldogs to 10 points and 145 total yards.
"It's definitely crazy how fast time goes," Rueckemann said. "As a freshman, you're thinking you have all this time. Before you know it, here you are on Senior Night and you're playing your last game. It's absolutely crazy."
It gets a little crazier with two road games to end his career.
"I just want to enjoy the moment," Rueckemann said. "I've been playing football for a while and it's definitely going to be crazy when it's over. I just want to enjoy every little bit of it, get some wins and enjoy it with my teammates, with my family and with everyone who has gotten me to this point."