COLUMBIA — A lesser man quits in the face of adversity.
That is what Rock Bridge football coach A.J. Ofodile told his players in the huddle after the 31-21 loss to Jefferson City. His team refused to quit despite never holding a lead the entire game.
There were opportunities where the team could have lied down, too. The Bruins were down 14-0 early in the second quarter after touchdowns scored by junior running back Elijah Pittman and junior receiver Jake Pridgin.
Ofodile knew his players weren't going to give up that easy. Not this team.
"They won't quit fighting," the coach said. "They'll keep trying."
And they did. The determination of the Bruins didn't let up throughout the whole game. After the Jays went up 14-0, the the Bruins went out on the next drive and marched down the field.
First, junior receiver Alex Ofodile returned the kickoff to the Jays' 44 yard-line. Twelve plays later, junior quarterback Logan Twehous tossed up a jump ball to one of his guys in the back of the endzone on 4th down. Senior receiver Zach Reuter came down with it for the 5-yard score cutting the Jays lead to 7.
The Jays answered on the next drive with a touchdown of their own and went into halftime with a 21-7 lead. In the third quarter, the Bruins' defense stepped up, forcing a turnover on downs and recovering two fumbles.
Rock Bridge grabbed a late third quarter touchdown making the score 21-14, but every time Rock Bridge scored, Jeff City answered with one of its own.
These two district rivals battled it out all night, but Jeff City finally sealed the deal hitting a field goal with 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
In the huddle after the game, A.J. Ofodile reiterated to his team that the regular season is now behind them. He told them that everything they did before that day was just preparation for districts.
The players gathered together, holding their hands up in the air for the "1, 2, 3 Bruins!" countdown.
"We gotta keep our heads up," a voice said inside the huddle. The team was ready to build from the loss and move on to the next game, which might again be against Jeff City.
While the dates and opponents for districts won't officially be determined until the weekend, all signs are pointing to Rock Bridge traveling to Jeff City next week for the first round.
Despite the loss, A.J. Ofodile believes the team will be ready.
"If we can figure out a way to get that same fire coming out. ... We're going to be sitting in a lot better position," he said. "We've got the ability, it's just getting the emotion turned on right from the very beginning."
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.