COLUMBIA — In the past three years, the Providence Bowl has been a tight game.
It's been a hard-fought battle between the two rival high schools that share the north and south ends of Providence Road — Hickman and Rock Bridge.
This year was no different.
Sure, the final score of 27-10 may seem different. A 17-point victory for Rock Bridge doesn't exactly scream "tight game." But the score doesn't tell the entire story.
At halftime, the Bruins had a 14-0 lead over the Kewpies. Their two scores came from a 54-yard touchdown catch from junior receiver Alex Ofodile and a 37-yard score from senior receiver Antwon Turnage.
Rock Bridge football coach A.J. Ofodile made sure the team kept their heads before the start of the second half. He reminded the team that they'd had halftime leads before but should never feel comfortable with a lead.
A.J. Ofodile told the team to play as if it were down 14-0.
The second half began, and both sides of the crowd were still roaring. Both student sections were fired up.
"What side? South side!" shouted the Bruins' student section.
"What side? North side!" yelled the Kewpies' student section.
Hickman put up a score from senior running back Justise Keith and then a field goal late in the third. It quickly turned into a four-point game. The score was 14-10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
This was exactly what A.J. Ofodile warned the team about during halftime. The team should never feel comfortable with a lead.
This was the time for the Rock Bridge defense to step up.
"Our (defensive) line was really sound with reading their keys," said Marcus Frisby, senior defensive lineman for the Bruins. "We really played lights out. We had a couple things that went wrong here and there, but that's football, you know. We really played relentless defense. We played hard."
The Bruins didn't allow a score for the rest of the night. In the fourth quarter, they forced the Kewpies to punt twice and forced a turnover on downs. The key was the Rock Bridge pass rush, which was in the face of senior Hickman quarterback Mason Murray all night, causing him to use his feet to keep the offense going.
"Mason can really run around and scramble real good," Frisby said. "That gave us a little trouble here and there. ... But we got in there as much as we could and pressured as much as we could."
A.J. Ofodile knew before the game that Murray would give the team trouble on his feet. The Bruins came close to multiple sacks and were able to get a key fourth-quarter sack by senior linebacker Brody Watson that helped seal the deal.
"(Murray) can run around, that's what he does," A.J. Ofodile said. "He's got great time, great elusiveness. He's much stronger than you'd think. You're not going to get him down all the time. You just have to keep coming, try to come to balance, get a bunch of guys back there to him. That's the only way you're going to get him down."
With less than three minutes to go in the game, the Bruins handed the ball to senior running back Eli Stout on the first play of the drive. Stout broke left, gained speed and kept his balance as he came within inches of stepping out of bounds. He took off for a 52-yard score.
Game. The Bruins finally brought their bragging rights back to the south side and improved their record to 4-1.
"The guys really wanted to win," A.J. Ofodile said. "I think they didn't take it for granted. They prepared a whole lot better."