KANSAS CITY — Bruin players were crying, coaches were consoling and Rockhurst was celebrating.
The Rock Bridge High School football team lost 10-9 to the Hawklets on Friday night in the sectional round of the playoffs.
“Emotionally, I’m a wreck right now,” defensive coordinator Justin Conyers said, fighting back tears. “For me, it breaks my heart to end in a one-point loss.”
The Bruins led the Hawklets until late in the fourth quarter, when Rockhurst converted a 30-yard field goal with 1:07 left.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed in the outcome,” Bruins coach A.J. Ofodile said. “I’m not a moral victory guy, but anybody who saw this game would have known that it could have gone either way.”
The Bruins, who lost to Rockhurst 35-6 earlier in the season, began the game with confidence. The defense stopped the Hawklets on every drive in a scoreless first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Bruins stellar defense continued. With the Hawklets on their own 4-yard line with 2:09 left in the half, defensive tackle Andre McKinnon sacked quarterback Nick Jones in the end zone for a safety. The tackle gave the Bruins the first score of the game, a 2-0 lead and the ball back. The Bruins would add one more touchdown in the half to make it a 9-0 lead.
Everything seemed to be going the Bruins’ way, but it did not last.
With 3:20 remaining in the third quarter, the momentum shifted. The reliable long-snapper for the Bruins, Dakota Melson, injured himself this past week and was unable to play in Friday night’s game. His replacement was star tight end Austin Ray, and in the third quarter, Ray and the punter had a miscue.
A low snap and a bobbled football turned the ball over to the Hawklets 15 yards from their end zone.
In three plays, Rockhurst scored a touchdown and cut the Bruins' lead to 9-7.
“You know, it’s tough a little bit. It’s a momentum shifter is what it is. It’s just one of those things that just didn’t go your way. We very easily could have picked up the ball and punted it, and then another time comes and you don’t,” Conyers said. “We ended up on the bad end of it this time. That’s just kind of the way football goes.”
After unsuccessful Rock Bridge drives in the fourth quarter, the Hawklets put themselves in field goal position with just over a minute left.
Trailing 10-9 with no time outs remaining, the Bruins had a minute to score. After four unsuccessful pass attempts, the game — and their season — was over.
“They did some good things, and we did some good things. They just did one point worth better than us,” Ofodile said. “I don’t think we lost the game. They won it.”