Defense keys Bruins’ easy win

Rock Bridge forces five fumbles and limits Mexico to 126 yards.
Sunday, September 7, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:48 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

MEXICO — Friday night was a balancing act for A.J. Ofodile.

Ofodile, the Bruins’ new coach, had more to think about than calling plays during Rock Bridge’s 45-9 victory against the Mexico Bulldogs.

Ofodile was also trying to balance coaching his team to play its best and to avoid running up the score.

“It’s kind of a darned if you do, darned if you don’t situation,” Ofodile said. “A situation where we score a ton of points and we’re kind of the bully. If you don’t score a ton of points, then you’re overrated.”

Rock Bridge (1-0) led from the first drive. Ofodile said execution is important in a lopsided game.

“The one thing we try to focus on is just executing every play, let’s not pay attention to the situation,” Ofodile said.

Quarterback Chase Patton was taken out in the third quarter with the Bruins leading 45-3. Patton completed 18-of-31 passes for 246 yards. He threw three touchdowns and one interception.

Mexico (0-1) put pressure on Patton early in the first quarter, but he escaped easily. Patton and his receivers got on track after a shaky start and dropped passes early in the game.

Bernie Rothrock, Mexico’s coach, gave Patton a lot of credit.

“He’s probably the best quarterback I’ve ever seen in high school in Missouri,” Rothrock said.

Tailback Van Alexander also lived up to expectations. A Missouri recruit at linebacker, Alexander scored four touchdowns, three rushing and one receiving.

Scott Russell led Rock Bridge receivers with six catches for 108 yards and one touchdown. Andy Burks made three catches, all for big yardage. He finished with 80 yards.

The turning point was in the second quarter. Rock Bridge led 17-3 and Mexico was starting a drive. It was third-and-4 when Mexico committed two penalties. The second was holding, which brought back a run that would have given Mexico a first down at the Rock Bridge 48.

The penalties forced Mexico to punt. Patton then connected with Russell for a 54-yard gain. Patton hit Russell again on the next play for a 5-yard touchdown.

Rock Bridge forced a Ryann Early fumble with 11 seconds left in the first half. Burks recovered at the Bulldogs’ 35.

On the next play, Patton found Burks down the right sideline for a touchdown to give the Bruins a 31-3 lead at halftime.

“I think most games you’re going to have some kind of swing point,” Ofodile said. “And I think that was definitely it momentum-wise.

“To get that momentum with those turnovers and get the ball in a couple of times, I think that was big for us momentum wise and I think that might have discouraged them a little bit.”

Although the offense played well, the defense helped Rock Bridge win.

The defense swarmed to the ball all night and forced five fumbles. It also blocked an extra-point attempt in the fourth quarter.

“One thing we do good as a team is run to the ball,” Ofodile said. “I think we don’t have any kind of problem with intensity, and kind of problem with enthusiasm.”

With Rock Bridge up 3-0 in the first quarter, Mexico fumbled on its first play. Quarterback Tyler Haden botched the handoff to Early, and Burks recovered.

The Bruins took advantage and scored on Alexander’s 2-yard run. That gave Rock Bridge a 10-0 lead with 6:27 to go in the opening quarter.

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