Second-half surge lifts St. Bede over Trojans

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PERU – The story was mostly about Luke, as in Luke Story. But there were plenty of other contributors to the saga.

Tyreke Fortney, John Brady and Calym Setser also played big parts in the tale of how St. Bede dominated the second half against Mendota and went on for a 33-15 victory over the Trojans in a Three Rivers Conference East Division showdown on Oct. 21 at the Academy in Peru.

The loss was the third straight by the Trojans as they finished up the regular season at 5-4 overall and 2-4 in conference play. The Bruins ended at 7-2 overall and 4-2 in league games.

Fortney grabbed the spotlight in the first quarter as he scored both of St. Bede’s touchdowns to lead the Bruins to a 14-0 lead only to see it evaporate as the Trojans answered with a pair of second-quarter scores to forge in front, 15-14, at halftime.

Then in the second half, Story became the story as he rambled his way to a pair of long touchdown runs as part of a 19-0 Bruin uprising. The senior ended up with 138 yards rushing in just 11 attempts. Fortney still made his presence felt in the second half as he caught his second touchdown pass of the night from Brady.

Fortney’s first touchdown reception came on just the second play of the game and got the Bruins off and running. The Brady-to-Fortney connection went for 58 yards, and following the PAT kick by Stephen Shaver, St. Bede owned a 7-0 lead with just 45 seconds gone in the game.

Mendota’s first offensive series resulted in a punt, and the speedy Fortney was the one back to accept the offering. He grabbed the kick at his own 27-yard line and proceeded to take it back 73 yards for a touchdown at the 7:14 mark of the opening stanza. Shaver’s extra-point kick was good.

Staring up at a two-touchdown deficit, the Trojans responded when they embarked on a 15-play, 70-yard drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. A 38-yard pass completion from Justin Randolph to Ryne Strouss advanced the ball into St. Bede territory, then Ted Landgraf capped off the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run with 11:13 left in the first half. Mendota lined up for the extra-point kick, but after St. Bede was called for an off-sides penalty, the Trojans elected to go for two and Omar Gonzalez ran it in to make it 14-8.

When St. Bede failed to pick up a first down on its next possession, a punt attempt went awry when the ball was snapped over Shaver’s head and Mendota’s Charles Heiting tackled him at the Bruin 40. The Trojans drove down to the St. Bede 12-yard line, where they eventually attempted a field goal, but a 32-yard try from Emilio Perez was wide right.

Mendota’s defense held the Bruins again and forced another punt, this time a successful one that resulted in the Trojans starting another drive inside St. Bede territory at the 43. Mendota was able to capitalize on the excellent field position as it covered the 43 yards in six plays, the finale one being a 7-yard touchdown run by Uzi Angulo with 17 seconds left in the half. Perez added the extra-point kick to put the Trojans in front, 15-14.

Penalties plagued both teams throughout the game with perhaps the most critical one yet on the Trojans coming when a series of bad snaps from center backed the Bruins all the way to their own 6-yard line. Mendota thought it had forced St. Bede into another punt when a third-down play was unsuccessful, but the Trojans were called for defensive holding, which moved the ball out to the 18 and gave the Bruins another third-down try.

On third-and-17 from the 18, Brady hooked up with Setser on a 41-yard aerial that dug the Bruins out of a deep hole and moved them into Trojan territory at the 41. From there, Story raced 41 yards to the end zone and St. Bede regained the lead. The two-point pass attempt was no good and it was 20-15 with 8:08 left in the third period.

A failed fake punt attempt by the Trojans on their next offensive series didn’t hurt as a St. Bede fumble was recovered by Angulo at Mendota’s 37-yard line. The Trojans couldn’t do anything on offense and punted it back to St. Bede, which took over at its own 12 to end the quarter.

On St. Bede’s possession, Fortney, who hadn’t been heard from since the first quarter, got back in the action when he gathered in a 42-yard pass from Brady to the Trojan 30. A 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on Mendota advanced the ball 15 more yards, and then the Brady-to-Fortney link struck again on a 15-yard TD pass to increase St. Bede’s lead to 26-15.

Mendota turned the ball over on downs at the St. Bede 46 with 7:23 left, and then Story put the game out of reach with a 54-yard run to the end zone. Shaver’s PAT kick provided the final margin.

The Trojans finished with 250 yards compared to 321 for St. Bede. Angulo led the rushing attack with 56 yards on 16 totes. Although Story eclipsed the century mark in rushing, Brady’s 205 yards in the air was a majority of the Bruins’ offense.