FLORISSANT - The Rock Bridge Bruins came to Florissant heavy underdogs and left with high heads and a newfound confidence despite a 23-20 loss.
Quarterback Mark Pickerel was the Bruins biggest performer offensively, completing 20 of 24 attempts for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He was proud of the effort his teammates put forth.
Several players had big games in Hazelwood Central's 23-20 victory over Rock Bridge Saturday in Florissant.
- Mark Pickerel, Rock Bridge, Sr., QB: 20-24, 227 yds, 2TD. 15 carries, 32 yds, TD
- Rocky Smith, Hazelwood Central, Sr., RB: 29 carries, 181 yds, TD
- Sheldon Gerau, Rock Bridge, Sr., WR: 8 rec, 90 yds
- Jamal Flowers, Hazelwood Central, Sr., QB: 11-19, 123 yds, TD, INT. 8 carries, 50 yds, TD
- Nate Egharevba, Rock Bridge, Jr., WR: 4 catches, 92 yds
“You’ve got to take something positive from this,” he said. “I think the biggest thing we’ll take is confidence.”
If they could have avoided two critical mistakes on special teams during the first half, the Bruins may have found themselves taking the game into overtime.
With 4:58 remaining in the half, quarterback Mark Pickerel found Ray Austin in the end zone from five yards out to cap an 11-play, 78-yard touchdown drive and brought the Bruins an extra point away from tying the game. It was not to be however, as Ian Patterson’s attempt missed wide right and the Hawks lead stood.
The second blunder came with less than a minute to go in the half. Still trailing 7-6, Rock Bridge was backed up on its own 13-yard line in a 4th-and-13 situation. Sheldon Gerau stood back to punt but never got the chance when the snap sailed high over his head and out of the end zone for a safety.
“We’re there if we clean ourselves up a little bit,” Rock Bridge coach A.J. Ofodile said. “We weren’t physically dominated today.”
Rock Bridge was able to respond to all three Hawk touchdowns with touchdowns of its own but a clock-killing fourth-quarter drive for Hazelwood Central proved to be the end for the Bruins.
The key moment came on fourth-and-inches at the Rock Bridge 35-yard line. Twice before the Bruins had the Hawks in third-down situations and both times Hazelwood Central had converted. After Rocky Smith came up short on his 28th carry of the game on third down, he picked up the first and then some on his 29th, a 35-yard touchdown run with 2:17 to go that put the Hawks up 23-13.
Ofodile was hardly disappointed with the performance of his team in its first road game of the season but there is still work to be done, he says, especially on its mental game.
“We’ve got to get the kids believing in themselves, I’m not sure they thought this was a winnable game until the last few minutes,” he said. “We’ve got to clear that hurdle.”
The Bruins head to Jefferson City next week before a date with No. 1 Rockhurst the following week.
“We played hard but made some mental mistakes,” senior wide receiver Sheldon Gerau said. “We’ve got to come out next week ready to play.”