COLUMBIA — With 27 yards to go at the end of the first quarter, Rock Bridge Bruins quarterback Logan Twehous spiraled a long ball right through the outstretched hands of a diving Zach Reuter. The play was one of many frustrating offensive moments in the first half of Friday’s match-up against the De Smet Spartans.
But the near-completion served as a preview for a stronger second half in Rock Bridge's 20-7 win.
“I knew I could’ve caught it,” said Reuter, a junior receiver. “I was so mad at myself for a second, but you got to let it go and keep playing.”
Reuter and the offense’s big break came in the third quarter when Twehous hit Reuter deep for a 62-yard touchdown along the same sideline.
“I knew it was a touchdown when I threw it,” Twehous said. “I saw him catch it, and I just started running.”
The two weren’t finished. Concluding a 66-yard drive that was extended by a fourth-down reception to sophomore receiver Joe Barbee, Twehous and Reuter connected for a 23-yard touchdown.
“He (Reuter) was a guy that we kind of targeted as an underrated, under-the-radar guy,” coach A.J. Ofodile said. “He put up Jerry Rice numbers on JV last year.”
The Bruins weren’t setting any records in the first half. The team failed to put up a point and gave De Smet great field position with a botched punt with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. De Smet took advantage with a touchdown pass from quarterback Conner Harrison to receiver Alex Bausch.
Ofodile summed up the slow start in three words.
“Nerves. Nerves. Nerves,” he said. “All day, that was the recurring theme. I wanted to address it, and get it out in the open: Hey, we’re all nervous.”
Nerves didn't seem to impact the defense's performance. The team continually shut down the Spartans, even after big plays by De Smet. Linebacker Ross Alexander intercepted a Harrison pass, killing a drive broken open by a 59-yard Marcus Jester run.
Alexander credits the defense’s success to its high level of conditioning.
“We’re in better shape than the (opposing) offense,” he said. “We’re really proud of our fourth quarter. Even big T.J. (Smith) stuck in it, too.”
Ofodile thinks big guys like Smith and all-state lineman A.J. Logan are key to shutting down offenses this season.
“You don’t see guys like them at the high school level," he said. “We always feel like we have a little bit of an advantage there in terms of muddying up the waters.”
Despite a three-touchdown, interception-free performance by Twehous in his inaugural start, Ofodile said the team can’t afford to start slow again next week against Fort Zumwalt West.
“The tempo they play at, we’ll find ourselves three touchdowns down if we sputter like that,” Ofodile said.
But for now, the Bruins can relish a little in getting a statement win the first game of the season.
“It’s huge,” Twehous said. “We’ll enjoy this week, but we need to come back strong for Fort Zumwalt West.”