Helias tops homecoming with win over Rock Bridge

Two weeks ago, the Helias Crusaders walked into the locker room at halftime holding a 17-0 lead against the Hickman Kewpies.

Two quarters later, the Crusaders came out on the short end of a 27-17 decision to the Class 6 Kewpies.

Saturday night at Adkins Stadium, it was deja vu all over again for the Crusaders, who held a 17-point lead against the Class 6 Rock Bridge Bruins.

Concern? Worry? Nope. Helias head coach Phil Pitts walked into the very same locker room with a smile on his face.

“I told the kids they should be happy because we had a chance to knock out this second-half demon,” Pitts said. “They were ready to go.”

And they went. The Crusaders, ranked No. 5 in Class 4, dominated all four quarters against the Bruins, rolling to a 59-21 victory against the No. 5 team in Class 6 for Homecoming.

“I knew that if we came out and played like we were practicing, we could win like this,” Helias senior running back Garrett Buschjost said.

The Crusaders finished with 501 yards of total offense — 252 on the ground and 249 passing.

“This offense works when we are balanced and we keep teams off-balance,” Pitts said. “We did a good job of mixing up the plays.”

It wasn’t the best of starts for the Crusaders, who threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage. But the Bruins returned the favor as J.C. Szumigala picked off a Logan Twehous pass on Rock Bridge’s first possession the Helias 7. It was the first of four Crusader interceptions in the game.

Helias set the tone for the night on the ensuing drive, marching 93 yards on 12 plays with Wyatt Porter scoring on a 10-yard run. Szumigala booted the first of his eight extra points and it was 7-0.

After a short Rock Bridge punt, Helias needed just five plays to go 42 yards to double its lead. The score came on a 5-yard run by Buschjost, who ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns.

A 31-yard touchdown pass from Twehous to Zach Reuter early in the second quarter made it 14-7. But Helias answered, going 80 yards in just three plays. Buschjost ran for 23, then 25 yards. After a Rock Bridge penalty, Wyatt Porter hit Hale Hentges for a 21-7 Helias advantage.

Rock Bridge cut the Helias lead to 21-14 with 7:21 left in the half on a 39-yard pass from Twehous to Alex Ofodile. It took Helias all of two plays to get that score back.

After an 11-yard run by Buschjost, the running back turned quarterback hit a wide-open Christian Hake down the right sideline and the Helias senior receiver, helped by a devastating block by Hentges, took it 69 yards for a score.

“Hale was normally the one who came open in practice,” Buschjost said. “But their corner came flying down and I wanted to hang it up there so Christian could catch it.”

A 20-yard field goal by Szumigala with :20 left in the half made it 31-14.

“We didn’t want to get excited, there were still two quarters to play,” Helias senior linebacker Michael Tannehill said.

Rock Bridge got the ball first in the third quarter and drove to the Helias 11. But on third-and-six, the Crusaders sacked Twehous, who fumbled and Blake Wilbers recovered and returned the ball to the Helias 45.

“We needed to make a big play and we made one,” Tannehill said.

Four plays later, Helias was in the end zone again as Porter hit Ryan Tannehill for a 32-yard touchdown to make it 38-14.

Twehous and Reuter hooked up for another score on Rock Bridge’s next drive, this one from 16 yards out. But again, Helias answered, going 60 yards in six plays as Buschjost scored from 16 yards out in the final seconds of the third quarter and it was 45-21.

Helias scored twice in the fourth quarter to bring the turbo clock into play — Buschjost on a 14-yard run and a 7-yard pass from Porter to Hake.

The Bruins (4-2) picked up just 44 yards on 24 rushing attempts.

“We had to make them one-dimensional because it is a lot easier to stop a team when you do that, no matter how talented it might be,” Pitts said. “Up and down the lineup, everybody kept attacking.”

Michael Tannehill believes this game will propel Helias the remainder of the season.

“We were on a good path, but this just boosts it,” he said. “We’re going to have some swagger.”

Helias (4-2) will play Saturday at MICDS in St. Louis. Game time is 1 p.m.

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