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St. Bede junior Justin Shaw (No. 3) makes a grab as Bureau Valley’s Tucker Schoff (No. 42) chases him Friday during the Bruins’ 29-25 victory in a Three Rivers Conference crossover game in Peru. NewsTribune photo//Scott Anderson
Bureau Valley’s Josh Mead brings down St. Bede junior running back Justin Shaw (No. 3) during the Bruins’ 29-25 victory Friday in a Three Rivers Conference crossover game in Peru. NewsTribune photo//Scott Anderson
The St. Bede football team didn’t use junior receive Sam Halm much in its Week 1 victory at Amboy-LaMoille.
But at halftime Friday, one of the Bruins adjustments was isolating Halm on the outside.
It proved to be a smart move.
Halm caught six passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns in the second half, including a 23-yard scoring grab with 2:56 left to help lift St. Bede to a 29-25 Three Rivers Conference crossover victory over Bureau Valley at the Academy.
“We know he’s a great player,” St. Bede coach John Bellino said. “We kind of didn’t show him against Amboy. He made some great catches for us tonight.”
Throwing to Halm was just one of several key adjustments the Bruins made after entering halftime down 13-7.
In the first 24 minutes, the Bruins managed just 84 offensive yards — 70 passing and 14 rushing — made two first downs and ran only 18 offensive plays to Bureau Valley’s 41.
St. Bede’s only first-half points came on a 66-yard fumble return by Baylee Hopps with 8:42 left in the first quarter.
The Storm, meanwhile, had 197 yards and scored two offensive touchdowns — a 1-yard run by Tucker Schoff and a 15-yard pass from Parker Neuhalfen to Josh Mead with 29.7 seconds left in the half.
“We kind of struggled in the first half, but we got a good talk at halftime and came out really tough and really picked it up,” Halm said. “(We talked about) containing the quarterback because he was getting outside, who we were blocking — we had to rearrange because linebackers were shooting. We talked about it all.”
Bureau Valley still controlled the game for much of the third quarter, taking a 19-7 lead on a 3-yard touchdown run by Tommy Johnston and taking a 25-14 advantage when Neuhalfen scampered for a 36-yard score on the first play following a muffed punt.
But eventually, St. Bede’s adjustments worked.
Following a BV three-and-out early in the fourth quarter, the Bruin offense went 53 yards on six plays, capping the drive with a 1-yard TD plunge by Justin Shaw.
After another BV three-and-out, St. Bede quarterback Jack Brady engineered the winning drive.
Brady completed 5-of-8 passes for 68 yards with the last one a 23-yard toss down the right sideline to Halm, who got behind his defender.
“The line was blocking real well,” Halm said. “We needed to pass block and they kept everybody out of there. … It was a perfect throw by Jack Brady.
“It was exciting, but we still had three minutes. We couldn’t get too excited.”
The Bruin defense stepped up one more time by forcing a turnover on downs with three incomplete passes and a 5-yard tackle for loss by Halm on second down. “I just did what my coaches taught me,” Halm said. “They told me to keep contain, watch (Neuhalfen) and don’t let him get outside of me.”
In the second half, the Bruins racked up 251 yards while limiting the Storm to 102, including negative-14 in the fourth quarter.
“I thought the defense played extremely well the second half,” Bellino said. “We gave up a TD, but after that we shut them down.
“The key to the defense was containing (Neuhalfen). Think about Johnny Football — he does everything for them. He throws the ball well and he runs the ball well.” The Bruins (2-0) open Three Rivers South Division play next week at home against Kewanee, while the Storm (1-1) travel to Sterling to face Newman in a Three Rivers North Division game.
“They got a couple stops, forced a punt, got some field position on us and their kids made plays,” BV coach Jeff Ohlson said about how St. Bede changed the momentum. “Their quarterback made a heck of a throw and their kid made a play and caught the ball. We had Tommy (Johnston) open (on our last drive) and we didn’t make the play. They made more plays than we did in the end.”
Notes: At halftime, St. Bede officials presented a check for $7,240 to BV student Cora Peters’ family, who is battling cancer. The money was raised by selling T-shirts, the 50-50 raffle and other donations. Linda Kelsey donated her share of the 50-50 winnings — $348 — to the family as well. … BV won the sophomore game 42-18.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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