A reversal of roles brought about the end of Jefferson City's season.
With starting quarterback Logan Twehous out with a shoulder injury, the sixth-seeded Rock Bridge Bruins deviated from their norm, using the run to set up the pass to shock the third-seeded Jays 48-18 in the opening round of the Class 6 District 3 Tournament on Friday night at Adkins Stadium.
"They were more physical than we were tonight," Jefferson City coach Ted LePage said. "They physically are an imposing team, and they imposed their will on us tonight.
"...That stuff happens some nights, it just happened on the wrong night."
It was a complete 180 from last Friday's contest, a 31-21 Jefferson City victory in Columbia, a game that saw the Jays control the ground and shut down the Bruins' vaunted aerial attack.
Rock Bridge threw something new at Jefferson City, running out of the Wildcat formation and taking sporadic shots down the field. It paid off with 225 rushing yards and four touchdown passes of 38 or more yards.
"We just got put in a real adverse position," Rock Bridge coach A.J. Ofodile said. "A lot of injuries, a lot of guys out. What's the old Schoolhouse Rock saying? Mother necessity? We had to be creative, we had to figure out a way."
Rock Bridge sure found a way.
Sophomore tight end Hayden Johnson took the snaps when the Bruins employed the Wildcat formation, rushing 15 times for 73 yards and three touchdowns to go along with two touchdown passes that went for 38 and 45 yards, respectively. He was aided by Tarus Moore's big night, rushing 20 times for 148 yards after not carrying the ball once a week ago.
"We wanted to have a different option," Ofodile said. "Our freshman coach last year who's now at Camdenton used to use Hayden in the Wildcat. We've seen him do it before, we knew he was really good at it.
"It's something that we do that's fun, and we were able to do it. I think our kids kind of rallied behind it."
Rock Bridge didn't waste much time using Johnson in the Wildcat, as he tossed a 38-yard touchdown pass to Zach Reuter on the game's first drive.
Gabe Marcantonio booted a 28-yard field goal to get the Jays within 7-3, but started a theme of leaving points on the board. That came after a pass went through the fingertips of a Jay receiver in the end zone, which happened twice on Jefferson City's next drive and once on the drive after that.
"We had four or five passes that we missed on, a couple drops, a few that were just a few inches too far," LePaged said. "Those are 28 points. We should have had 28 points instead of (three)."
Johnson found the end zone on consecutive drives in the second quarter, bulling his way in from 1 and 4 yards out, respectively, to put the Bruins ahead 21-3 midway through the period.
"We've seen it before on film," LePage said of Johnson running the Wildcat. "They've got some big guys running the ball."
Jefferson City cut the lead to 21-10 with 2:37 left in the second period on a 6-yard run from Denzel Wilson, but Rock Bridge responded two plays later on a 45-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Karson Ringdahl to Reuter to take a 28-10 lead at halftime.
"They did a really good job game planning, making sure we didn't get one-on-one opportunities with our outside guys," Ofodile said. "We figured that if we phone-boothed it up and still leave those outside guys out there, either they're going to be too light in the box or they're going to have to single up outside. They ended up singling up outside, and we ended up getting two big plays out of it."
Jefferson City responded with a score to open the third quarter, as Marcantonio found the end zone from 3 yards out. Jerry McMillian ran in the 2-point conversion, and it was a 10-point game all of a sudden.
"We were able to drive down the field and score, we got a sack that we wanted, then we got the ball and weren't able to finish that drive," LePage said. "That really put a damper on it."
Jefferson City just couldn't complete the comeback.
After exchanging a couple possessions, Rock Bridge's Matt Troyer intercepted a pass and returned it to the Jefferson City 1-yard line. Johnson took care of that on the next play, putting the Bruins ahead 35-18 two plays into the fourth period.
Ringdahl hit Alex Ofodile for a 79-yard screen pass that went for a touchdown on the first play of the Bruin's next drive, making the score 41-6. A 45-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Reuter capped the scoring with 7:12 to play.
"We figured this was a game we weren't going to manufacture drives, so any time we could steal a big play and put points on the board (we'd take it)," Ofodile said. "I was thinking if we could score 21 and slow them down we might have a shot at it. I had no idea we'd explode and get those big plays. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good."
Rock Bridge (5-5) moves on to face Francis Howell Central, a 24-17 winner against Hickman.
"I've been sandbagging for the last five weeks," Ofodile said, referring to Rock Bridge's four-game losing streak entering Friday's contest. "We were playing like we were really bad to trick everybody and lull them asleep and wait for this moment."
Jefferson City ends its season at 6-4.
"I'll never be disappointed with this team's effort," LePage said. "This team has overachieved all year. We were supposed to be 2-8 and nobody thought we'd be any good at all. These guys overachieved and did what nobody else thought we could do. I'm proud of these guys."