COLUMBIA — The first time it gave the Rock Bridge football team life. The second time security.
Two muffed punts by Francis Howell in the third quarter of Friday's game, helped the Bruins rally from a 7-6 halftime deficit and grab a 20-10 victory on homecoming night.
Early in the third quarter, Francis Howell lined up to punt. The ball was snapped to punter Alex Martin who bobbled the football and, in his desperation to recover it, knocked it near the end zone. Rock Bridge's Corey Reuter alertly gave pursuit and recovered the football at the 1-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Bo Bell scored a touchdown to give the Bruins a 13-7 lead.
“No doubt that was one of the biggest momentum changers in the game,” Reuter said.
Later in the third quarter, the scene repeated. This time the ball was snapped over Martin's head and it went into the end zone where Rock Bridge defensive tackle Andre McKinnon picked it up for a touchdown, increasing the score to 20-10.
These two plays were the few highlights for a sloppy game that included six total fumbles, three total interceptions and a lot of penalties.
“It was like a roller coaster game, we had ups and downs, we twisted, we had all of that stuff,” Rock Bridge safety Kenny James said. “It was crazy.”
James had two interceptions in the game. The first came in the first quarter on a pass in the end zone. His second came in the third quarter and it was another pass by Francis Howell quarterback Eric Siebenshuh into the end zone.
The Bruins’ offense struggled. They lost three fumbles and Bell threw one interception.
“At the end of the day, it’s a team game. A win is a win,” Rock Bridge coach A.J. Ofodile said. “Even though I’m responsible for the offense, you take the wins when you get them.”
With the win, the Bruins are 5-2, eclipsing last year's total of 4 wins.
“I would be lying to say that it’s not a little bit of a sigh of relief to say that, all right, we ain’t having a losing record,” Ofodile said.
But Ofodile isn’t satisfied. The five wins accumulated by the Bruins have no impact next week, when the Bruins begin districts against Liberty.
“We’ve always kind of subscribed to the fact that these are seven preseason games, and now our regular season starts next week,” Ofodile said. “So can we be 3-0? Can we be 2-1? Can we get out of this district? That’s our whole big goal going forward.”
Friday was a step in the right direction for the Bruins, who will be looking to advance for the first time since 2005. Even with the struggles of the offense, the elevated play by the special teams and defense still produced a victory.
“Even though we haven’t played our best, we’ve come up on the right side of the scoreboard,” Ofodile said. “Every time you win there’s a little bit of momentum involved.”