BLOOMING GROVE -- The West Trojans came into Friday nights’ game against the Blooming Grove Lions as 36-point favorites to get an easy win. It was anything but that as the Lions and Trojans played to a 7-7 halftime score and a 14-7 score at the end of the third before West added two late scores in the fourth quarter to put the game away 28-7.
The win improves West to 2-1 on the season and the loss drops the Lions to 2-1.
The young Lions put up a terrific battle for three quarters before finally tiring late in the game. The overflow Homecoming crowd in Lion Stadium saw a tough battle between these two squads before the depth and experience of the Trojans finally won out in the end.
Behind a huge offensive line, the Trojans rushed for 288 yards on 41 carries. Running back Trey Janek led the way with 180 yards on 12 carries. His backfield mate Lawson Kendrick added another 69 yards on 13 carries and quarterback Landon Edwards finished with 45 on seven carries. Edwards completed 10 of 11 passes for 63 yards with Duston Vanek being on the receiving end of six passes for 45 yards.
The Lions struggled offensively throughout the contest, managing only 57 yards rushing and 104 yards passing. Quarterback Kelton Bell led the rushing and passing attack. Bell picked up 25 yards on six carries and completed 3 of 4 passes for 102 yards. Junior wide receiver Bryson Fisher had the big catch of the day with his one reception going for 94 yards.
Lion running back Bubba Beacom carried nine times for 17 yards and Timmy Hamilton carried eight times for 16. Hamilton also completed a pass for two yards. Omar Mandujano carried the ball three times for zero yards. Jackson Hoover caught two passes for six yards and Josh Glasco caught one for four.
The Trojans won the toss and elected to receive. Defensive starters for the Lions had Carter Grant, Ismael Ramirez, Devon Hood, and Colten Nicholson across the front with Trent Nicholson, Hamilton, and Hoover backing them up in the linebacker spots. Justus Reville and Beacom manned the cornerback spots with Glasco and Bell anchoring the safety positions.
Starting at their own 28-yard line, the Trojans used 14 plays to march to the Lions two before turning the ball over on downs. Facing fourth and goal from the one, quarterback Zane Meinen fumbled the snap and fell on it at the two, giving possession to Blooming Grove.
Offensive line starters for the Lions were Kian Long, Fidel Avalos, Hood, Ramirez, and Adam Tovar. Bell started at quarterback with Beacom as the tailback. Glasco, Hamilton, Revill, and Grant were the receivers. Hoover and Fisher rotated in at the receiver spots as well and Chris Castillo, Andrew Melton, Mason Crocker, and Nathan Alvarez all rotated in on the line.
Starting at their own two-yard line following the defensive stop, Beacom carried for two yards and then Bell kept for one, setting up third and seven from the 5.
On the third down play the large Homecoming crowd witnessed one of the longest -- and possibly the longest -- pass completion in Lion history as Bell found Fisher wide open at the 40.
Fisher hauled in the pass and set sail for the goal line. However, he would eventually be caught at the one-yard-line, setting up the Lions with a first and goal. It was Mandujano who got the call and the touchdown with 2:40 remaining in the quarter. Emmanual Rosas kicked the extra point to put the Lions up 7-0.
Both teams basically traded punts until late in the second quarter when the Trojans were able to use a short field to get their first touchdown of the contest.
Starting at the Lion 48, West used the running of Janek and the passing of Edwards to help move them to the 39. Facing fourth and one from there it was a pass completion of 16 yards to Janek from Edwards that gave them a first down at the 23. Two plays later it was Janek who found paydirt on a 16 yard run for the touchdown at the 3:08 mark of the second quarter. Alan Olvera kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.
The Lions received the second half kickoff but were unable to do anything with it. A penalty against the Lions also hurt their effort and Bell wound up punting. The Trojans once again had good field position, this time starting at their own 46. It was during this long drive that the size and the depth of the Trojan squad started to take over against the undermanned Lions. The long eleven play drive ended with Janek scoring on a run of 11 yards with 3:44 remaining in the third. Olvera again kicked the extra point and the Trojans went ahead 14-7.
The offensive struggles continued in the second half for Blooming Grove. The Trojans added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one being a run of 9 yards by Edwards, and the other being a run of 60 yards by Janek after a missed tackle in the Trojan backfield. Olvera kicked extra points after each score to produce the final of 28-7.
“Our guys just wore down in the second half. West is so big on the line and it finally took its toll. They also have a lot of depth and a lot of players to bring in and out. I was really proud of how we fought and clawed with them. We never quit trying. These type of games against good opponents like West help us determine where we are at offensively and defensively as we prepare later on to start district play,” summed up Lion head coach Ervin Chandler.