ST. LOUIS — The excitement was there, even though the score didn't necessarily show it.
The Rock Bridge football team was defeated by Blue Springs 35-14 on Friday in the Class 6 State Championship game. The score may have shown a 21-point deficit, but the game was closer than it appeared.
Considered by many as an underdog, Rock Bridge was down 28-0 at one point of the game. Blue Springs' 28-point lead started with a 49-yard punt return for a touchdown by senior receiver Darrius Shepherd.
"When I got out there on the punt return, I wanted to make a big play," Shepherd said. "After that, we started rolling."
In the second quarter, senior receiver Kaleb Prewett reeled in two scores for Blue Springs in a three-minute span, and junior running back Cobi Bissell got a 3-yard touchdown of his own. Just like that, Blue Springs was up 28-0, and Rock Bridge was desperately fighting from behind.
Toward the end of the second quarter, Rock Bridge put together an 80-yard drive and hit senior receiver Zach Reuter in the end zone for the team's first score of the game. The score was 28-7 in favor of Blue Springs going into halftime.
In the third quarter, Rock Bridge safety Xavier Hamilton intercepted a pass and returned to the Blue Springs 19 yard line, which set up a rushing touchdown by sophomore Hayden Johnson. Rock Bridge cut Blue Springs' lead to 14 and gained a little life.
"We made it interesting for a while," Rock Bridge coach A.J. Ofodile said. "We had a little bit of momentum in spite of some adversity."
Unfortunately for the Bruins, quarterback Logan Twehous went down earlier in the game with a broken clavicle. Sophomore Karson Ringdahl had to step into Twehous' position for the rest of the game.
Ofodile had faith in Ringdahl and said he thought he did a good job of stepping in, but the Bruins were not able to score for the rest of the game. After Johnson's touchdown, Blue Springs answered quickly with a 46-yard catch by Prewett and a 36-yard touchdown run by Bissell.
"I told (quarterback) Ian (Brown), 'Let's make a play right here. Let's change the momentum right now,'" Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe said. "And that throw changed it. Then the next play, Bissell had the long touchdown run, and that was huge for us."
Rock Bridge fought and moved the ball a bit in the fourth quarter but couldn't get a scoring drive going for the rest of the game. Rock Bridge finished the season with an 8-6 record and is the state runner-up for the first time since 1993.
"We did something that no team at Rock Bridge has done for 20 years," senior linebacker Ross Alexander said. "I'm sad we lost the game, but at the same time, we had a great season. I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Ofodile said he thinks he'll be able to use this season as motivation for future Rock Bridge teams.
"These guys will be guys that we talk about long after they're gone," Ofodile said. "We'll say, 'Hey, remember the 2013 group?' Their legacy is going to extend for quite some time."