It was a sequence that perfectly summed up the game.

Leading 28-7 with just under 30 seconds left in the first half, Rock Bridge forced a turnover on downs, marched right down the field and scored on a pass from Grant Hajicek to Brett Mooney.

The Bruins (3-4) moved the ball with ease all night long, recording a satisfying 48-21 home victory over winless Smith-Cotton on Friday night.

By now, Rock Bridge has grown tired of hearing about its 0-4 start to the season. The Bruins have proven with a recent upswing that their first month won’t define them, recording three consecutive convincing wins.

First it was 39-8 over Hickman, then 41-28 over Jefferson City, followed by Friday’s romp over outmatched Smith-Cotton, which the Bruins led 48-7 at one point.

“We’re starting to find our identity,” Rock Bridge coach Van Vanatta said. “We started out 0-4, but I thought we played some pretty good football. It’s prepared us and made these kids a little hungry.”

Smith-Cotton started strong in the first quarter, initially slowing the Rock Bridge offense and scoring on a 34-yard scamper by quarterback Brett Grupe.

Then the Bruins’ passing attack became lethal.

Three different Bruin receivers caught touchdown passes in the first half, and the Tigers could do little to respond.

“Smith-Cotton came to play tonight. They did a good job in the first quarter, but our offense also did a good job,” Vanatta said. “The game plan was to try to run the clock and keep our defense off the field, and we did some good things.”

Leading 28-7, the Bruins forced a turnover on downs near midfield and proceeded to score in less than 30 seconds.

The decision to throw for the end zone on the final play of the half instead of kicking a field goal may have appeared questionable at first, but those with eyes on the game understood: The Rock Bridge offense was having its way.

Hajicek found Mooney on a perfect strike over the middle, sending the Bruins' sideline into a frenzy.

“We had five guys wide, and Brett’s been a pretty good athlete this year,” Hajicek said. "He had man coverage, and I knew he could beat him.”

Mooney and fellow receivers Brant Bowers and Spencer Nivens played at perhaps their highest level so far this year, consistently hauling in downfield passes and racking up yards after the catch.

A typical Vanatta postgame speech involves congratulations after a win and a reminder to enjoy the victory before refocusing for the next week.

On Friday, the message to refocus came almost immediately. The Bruins will travel to Jefferson City next Friday to face Helias (6-1).

Hajicek was pleased with the effort against Smith-Cotton, but it was clear that he, along with the rest of the team, was already shifting focus to Helias.

“Helias is a team that I feel like has gotten better every year that I’ve been here,” he said. “We’ve got our hands full.”

The temperatures have plummeted in mid-Missouri, an annual sign that the stakes are rising as teams enter the final stretch of the regular season.

Hajicek and the Bruins know the biggest games are just around the corner.

“We need to be playing our best football come playoff time.”