In its inaugural season at the varsity level, Capital City entered Friday’s matchup against Rock Bridge still looking for its first win in school history.

The Bruins didn’t allow it to happen on their watch, showing no mercy.

Rock Bridge defeated Capital City 76-49 on Friday.

While the score may look lopsided, the Cavaliers gave the Bruins (4-0, 3-0 Central Missouri Activities Conference) all they could handle.

Capital City (0-4, 0-3) used its size up front to create an advantage. The three-headed monster of running backs Ian Nelson, Ethan Wood and Hurley Jacobs gave the Bruins plenty of trouble.

“They put us in a defense that we just don’t run,” coach Van Vanatta said. “We knew we couldn’t run our defense against it.”

Hurley put Capital City on the board with his 12-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. Nelson would contribute with a touchdown of his own in the first half. Woods finished the game with three touchdowns.

“They ground and pound,” Vanatta said. “They’re going to get you for 4 or 5 yards, and then they get you on the boots and make you fall asleep.”

Similarly, Rock Bridge running back Bryce Jackson gave the Cavaliers issues early. On his first carry of the game, Jackson scored from 27 yards out to give the Bruins an early lead.

Jackson carried the workload early for the Bruins, while quarterback Nathan Dent found a rhythm late in the first half.

Dent looked sharp in the passing game. Usually looking to run more than pass, he showcased his throwing ability against the Cavaliers. While Dent connected with multiple receivers, Payton Messer was Dent’s primary target. Dent would find Messer four times in the first half, including for a 33-yard touchdown.

Messer would finish the game with three touchdown receptions.

Vanatta realizes the strong chemistry between Dent and Messer, who off the field “are like best friends,” he said.

Late in the second quarter, the Bruins set up to take the usual knee before halftime. However, the Bruins got fancy, pulling out a trick play. Running back Hudson Gibbs would take the misdirection handoff for a touchdown to give the Bruins a 28-20 lead going into halftime.

“We always put trick plays in, but it’s one of those things we were really just messing around with it,” Vanatta said. “It just happened to work out.”

In the second half, the Bruins continued their strong offensive showing. Jackson scored his longest touchdown of the night in the third quarter, on a 48-yard run. Jackson would add two more touchdowns in the second half, ending the game with four scores.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate here at Rock Bridge to have good running backs,” Vanatta said. “He does a great job, and I’m just happy to see him put the numbers up and get the stats.”

In addition to his three touchdown passes to Messer, Dent chipped in with a passing touchdown to Joseph Kallenbach and a rushing touchdown of his own.

Even with the offensive onslaught from Rock Bridge, the Cavaliers continued to rally.

Quarterback Taggert Bodenstab didn’t have much of an impact in the first half, as the running backs shouldered most of the workload. However, in the second half, the Cavaliers utilized Bodenstab more. Bodenstab chipped in with two touchdowns, including an 80-yard run.

The Cavaliers’ unusual offense impacted the Rock Bridge game plan heavily. Capital City rarely looked to throw, completing only one pass the entire game.

“We haven’t seen a team like that since we’ve been here in four years,” Vanatta said. “To scheme against an offense like that is tough. They’re a hard-nosed football team.”

While there wasn’t much defense being played on both sides, linebacker Levi Tutt was a bright spot for Rock Bridge. Tutt recovered two Capital City turnovers and blocked a point-after attempt.

Looking ahead to next week’s matchup, the Bruins will meet another undefeated team in Helias (4-0, 2-0). Vanatta looks forward to the challenge.

“It’s just one of those we’ve got to try and get healthy,” Vanatta said. “Helias is a hell of football team. I’m going to enjoy it tonight and go to work tomorrow.”

Rock Bridge will take on the Crusaders at 7 p.m. Friday in Jefferson City.

  • Sports reporter, spring 2020 Studying sports journalism Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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