FOXBOROUGH — Defense does not always win championships. Cathedral’s offense proved that, and Madison Park’s defense learned it the hard way Saturday morning at Gillette Stadium.
The Panthers brought the offense and the Cardinals brought the defense into the Division 4A Super Bowl. But with quarterback Kejonte Hickman running the offense, Cathedral vaulted past Madison Park, 22-20, in a double-overtime thriller.
Hickman carried Cathedral (11-2) to its first Super Bowl win — literally.
The 5-foot-7-inch Hickman scored all 22 points, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion in double overtime. It is hard to imagine a 140-pounder carrying an entire team, but Hickman did just that.
He rushed for 158 yards in the first half and 249 yards total on a season-high 46 carries. Incredibly, he accounted for all but 46 yards of the Panthers’ total offensive production. The Madison Park offense accumulated just 27 rushing yards.
“I think we were very evenly matched, but No. 9 [Hickman] gave us fits,” said Madison Park coach Roosevelt Robinson, who led the Cardinals (8-5) to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1998.
In his 2012 playoff campaign, Hickman, a sophomore, relentlessly piled up 446 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns.
“I tip my hat to [Hickman],” said Robinson. “He’s small in stature, but oh my goodness, what a man amongst boys. We stopped their pass today, but he took it to the ground and played like a horse.”
In overtime, Madison Park fumbled on its first possession, but David Stewart, the Cardinals’ 6-4 defensive end, came up with a big play . He catapulted and stopped a driving Hickman, who was inches from the end zone, and slammed him back a yard on fourth down.
Hector Villar then hooked up with Kalvin Jones from 9 yards to give Madison Park a 20-14 lead in the second overtime, so Cathedral needed a touchdown and the 2-point conversion for the win. Enter Hero Hickman, who scored from 4 yards and won it with the conversion.
“I just had to put [my team] on my back and just carry them to the touchdown, especially for all the seniors who lost this one last year,” Hickman said.
The Cardinals defense kept them in the game, especially in the first half. Madison had just 37 total yards, 10 in the first half.
Cathedral opened with an 11-play drive that culminated with a turnover on downs. After a three-and-out, the Cardinals were forced to let their defense do the talking.
Two plays into Cathedral’s second drive, Hickman was picked off by Orryan Brown, who returned it 18 yards to put the Cardinals ahead, 8-0, with 1:19 left in the first quarter.
Hickman answered six plays later, running in from 14 yards to open up the second quarter. With 9:21 to go in the first half, he already had rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Madison Park scored on its next possession, capped off by Villar’s 1-yard burst into the end zone. Hickman’s second touchdown, a 5-yard rush with 1:23 to play in the second quarter, helped the Panthers head into halftime tied at 14.