Since his sophomore year, Stanford has been Nathaniel Peat’s dream school.
So committing there to play college football was a dream come true for Rock Bridge's senior running back. On Friday, Peat's future coach, Stanford running backs coach Ron Gould made an appearance and witnessed everything that Peat has to offer.
Peat ran between the tackles and outside the tackles to the tune of 376 yards and three touchdowns. He also burned a defensive back for a 64-yard receiving touchdown in the first half. Peat put it all together and helped spark the Bruins to a 52-28 win over the Helias Crusaders.
But, as usual, Peat gave credit to the offensive line, not himself.
“Literally anybody could have run through those holes,” Peat said. “They played an outstanding game and all I had to do was run through them. I beat them with speed, they are a good team, but our offensive line really dominant today and I have to thank them for that.”
Peat was right in a sense. After going into halftime leading 17-14, Peat broke a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second half. The offensive line opened up a large hole and then Peat turned on his explosiveness to take the run the distance.
“He’s a hell of a running back,” Rock Bridge coach Van Vanatta said. “We were running the ball at will, we didn’t need to do much more. The guys blocked for him up front. He made a couple nice moves, but that’s what he does. If you give him a crease, he finds it.”
Peat was just getting started. With his future running backs coach on the far side of the field, Peat broke a 55-yard touchdown run on the next possession.
In two possessions, Rock Bridge (6-2) jumped out to a 31-14 lead with 6:10 left in the third quarter. Peat’s touchdown runs acted as the offensive spark.
“We had to just get our confidence up,” Peat said. “I think it’s big plays like that just solidifies the game and brings everybody aboard.”
Rock Bridge had complete control of the game, but Helias quarterback Jacob Weaver had an impressive day as well. Weaver threw for 315 yards and answered Peat’s 55-yard touchdown run with a 37-yard pass to Adam Wilbers.
That was the concern Vanatta had from Friday’s game. While he was happy with the win, he was confused why the defense struggled to get off the field on third down.
“We shut the run down, but it was just big third downs or, I mean, their receivers made great plays, but it was one of those things where it seemed we were lost in coverage,” Vanatta said. “But once we made adjustments they finished the game out.”
It didn’t matter how many times Helias answered Rock Bridge, because the Bruins offense was firing on all cylinders.
Before the third quarter ended, Peat added a 28-yard touchdown run and quarterback Grant Hajicek threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Martez Manuel.
While most defenses prepare for Rock Bridge by focusing on Peat, Hajicek shined against Helias, as well. Hajicek finished the game 9 of 17 for 167 yards, two touchdowns, a rushing touchdown and one interception.
“I feel like his confidence is up and it’s showing on the field,” Peat said of Hajicek’s performance.”
Rock Bridge’s defense came alive in the fourth quarter and the Bruins cruised to another home win.
When its offense is performing the way it did in the third quarter, Peat doesn’t think there is a ceiling for how will Rock Bridge can perform.
“We can go however far we can with Grant throwing the ball and the great wide receivers we have,” Peat said.
On Friday he was the driving force behind the offense.