COLUMBIA, Mo. – Columbia Rock Bridge’s offense had been sailing along.
Until the Bruins met Blue Springs South Friday.
After scoring 61 points in the previous round versus Howell Central, top-seeded Rock Bridge struggled to find an offensive pulse in the frigid temps and the Jaguars took advantage for a 16-13 overtime win.
The Bruins committed three costly turnovers as they fell to 9-2 for the year.
“The defensive staff has done a great job over the last few weeks. We ended up with at least three turnovers,” Blue Springs South coach Jon Oyler said after his team advance to next week's Class 6 District 3 championship against crosstown rival Blue Springs. “The kids were just flying to the football, playing with a lot of passion.”
After an uneventful first half, in which neither team could put points on the board, the Jaguars put an end to the scoring drought on a 24-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Michael Muehlberger to senior wideout Ethan Swanegan.
Blue Springs South built on its momentum by forcing Rock Bridge senior Reece Jarvis to fumble on the ensuing kickoff. After stalling out at the Rock Bridge 21-yard line, senior kicker Nathan Rockwell converted a field goal to give the Jaguars a commanding 10-0 lead with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter.
The fumbled kickoff “was a killer,” Rock Bridge coach Van Vanatta said. “We really shot ourselves in the foot.”
Despite the sudden turn of events, the battle tested Bruins wouldn’t give up
Rock Bridge quarterback Trevor Twehous accounted for 60 yards on the next drive that resulted in a 32-yard field goal by sophomore Will Norris.
The Rock Bridge defense stiffened up on the ensuing drive, as it forced a quick three-and-out midway through the fourth quarter. After overcoming a few flags, Twehous rewarded the defense by finding sophomore receiver Zach Boyles in the end zone.
With the game knotted at 10, both offenses adopted a conservative approach as neither team wanted to make a crucial mistake and ultimately cost themselves the game.
Just as the game seemed destined for overtime, Rock Bridge’s defense forced a fumble in Blue Springs South territory with 52.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
What happened next, will have Vanatta and the returning Bruins wondering what could’ve been.
On first down, the Bruins ran a reverse play for junior receiver and former quarterback Marcus Manuel. Manuel’s pass was caught in the wind and wound up in the hands of a Blue Springs South defender.
“In hindsight, we will kinda question that call, but at the time we were thinking let’s take a chance, we had won multiple games due to trick plays,” Vanatta said. “Manuel has a great arm, but unfortunately it hung up in the air and they were able to make a great play on it.”
Despite the untimely turnover, Rock Bridge remained unscathed as Blue Springs South was content with taking the game into overtime.
On the first drive of overtime, the Jaguars defense stood their ground, but Rock Bridge was able to convert a 41-yard field goal for their first lead of the game.