Rock Bridge records Homecoming victory against Jefferson City
COLUMBIA - Miles Cheatum took the snap. He darted to the left, beating his defenders to the corner and evading all the opponents who tried to cut him off. From there it was a 50-yard sprint to the end zone, which he won after breaking a final tackle.
It was the first of two big touchdown runs for the Rock Bridge fullback, whose main purpose is usually to pound the ball or block for his quicker and more agile teammates. But Cheatum got to showcase exactly what he could do for himself during his final Homecoming game in a 41-28 victory against Jefferson City on Friday.
“It felt good,” Cheatum said. “You read the hole and you just go. You’ve got the wind behind you, you’ve got the crowd behind you and it just feels amazing to get in the end zone and celebrate with the team.”
But Cheatum’s runs were just a few of many big plays in Friday’s back-and-forth game. Both defenses were strong, consistently stopping plays behind the line of scrimmage. But there were plenty of mistakes the offenses were able to capitalize on.
Jays quarterback Cole Gresham connected with Devin White for a deep passing touchdown in the first quarter, but Bruins running back Bryce Jackson immediately responded with an 80-yard burst down the right sideline to make it 7-7.
Jefferson City put together a solid drive that straddled the first and second quarters, converting two fourth downs and scoring through a 19-yard White reception. The Jays then extended their lead to 14 points after blocking a punt in the end zone.
Then Cheatum dragged his side back into the game, first with his 52-yard touchdown down the sideline, and then with a 63-yard run up the middle after halftime, tying the game at 21.
“This is our Homecoming,” Cheatum said. “No way we’re going to let them come into our turf and take our Homecoming victory from us.”
A Jefferson City fumble at the 31-yard line set up an over-the-shoulder touchdown catch by Spencer Nivens, and it looked like Rock Bridge would cruise to another victory after taking a 28-21 lead.
But the job wasn’t done yet.
Gresham connected with White for another big touchdown to tie the game again at 28, and the Bruins would have to respond once again to ensure they maintained control of the game.
Quarterback Grant Hajicek didn’t disappoint, masterfully engineering a drive that was capped off by a 2-yard Jackson touchdown. On the next drive, Bruins linebacker Andrew Isom sacked Gresham on third-and-8 with just 4 minutes left, and then Jackson finally put the game out of reach at 41-28 with his third score of the day.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” Rock Bridge coach Van Vanatta said. “Down seven at halftime, they came out and did exactly what we asked them to do and fought hard.”
Cheatum, Hajicek, Isom and all the seniors on the team can now truly enjoy their final Homecoming with Rock Bridge after leading the Bruins to their second consecutive victory. Those seniors look to extend their needed winning streak with a matchup against Smith-Cotton at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at Rock Bridge.