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St. Bede quarterback Taggart Venegas looks for an open teammate Friday during the Bruins’ 20-14 victory over Amboy-LaMoille in Amboy. Venegas threw for a touchdown and ran for a score. NewsTribune photo/Anthony Soufflé
AMBOY — On the St. Bede football team’s first offensive play, quarterback Taggart Venegas just missed Brad Groleau on a go route.
At halftime, the Bruins decided to return to the play.
“We felt we could go back to that because they were playing man on Brad,” Venegas said.
It was a good decision.
Venegas hit Groleau down the right sideline on the first play of the half, and after getting away from the cornerback, the senior raced into the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown and a 13-point lead.
“We started the game and we missed it on our very first play,” St. Bede coach John Bellino said. “He overthrew him by about three feet. We thought we could complete it so we went after it. Tag laid it out there perfect and Brad made a nice catch.”
The Bruin defense took care of the rest Friday night as St. Bede went on to win 20-14 and hand Amboy-LaMoille its first loss of the season.
“That’s awesome. An undefeated team, to knock them down really makes a statement for us,” St. Bede tight end/linebacker Michael Bellino said. “It shows everybody what we’ve got. It’s just awesome.”
The win makes the Bruins playoff eligible at 5-2.
“That means everything,” Michael Bellino said about playoff eligibility. “We play all year to get in the playoffs. Now we just have to keep winning. We want a high seed.”
Bellino and his fellow Bruin defenders played a key role in Friday’s win.
The Bruins limited the Clippers, who ran for 246 yards last week at Morrison, to just 51 rushing yards on 33 carries, which is 1.5 yards per attempt.
St. Bede did allow a few big pass plays — including a 68-yard touchdown pass from Tyson Powers to Cooper Nelson in the first quarter — but buckled down in the second half and stopped A-L’s final seven pass attempts.
“They pretty much kicked our butt up front,” A-L coach Gary Jones said. “Their line dominated our line. We couldn’t get anything going offensively. Their defense was good. They kind of stacked the corners. We couldn’t get outside. Their two linebackers took away everything in the middle. Their defense played really well.” The St. Bede defense came up with three big stops in the fourth quarter.
On fourth-and-7 from the Bruin 9-yard line, St. Bede sophomore Justin Shaw came around the left end to sack Powers for an 8-yard loss.
On the next Clipper series, Michael Bellino knocked down a fourth-down pass to give the Bruins possession.
On A-L’s final possession that began with 20.3 seconds left, Brad Groleau intercepted a pass to seal the St. Bede victory.
“That’s all just pride,” Michael Bellino said. “We play for the name on the front of our jersey. That’s Bruin ‘D’ right there. We believe the Bruin ‘D’ is the best in the league. I think we showed that tonight. When it really came down to it, we could stop them.”
The Clippers had a tough time stopping St. Bede’s running game in the first half. The Bruins got on the board with 10:11 left in the second quarter when fullback Austin Schwab pushed the pile into the end zone from 5 yards out.
St. Bede was without kicker Santiago Galatas so it went for a two-point conversion and missed, making it a 7-6 game.
The Bruins forced a three-and-out, and A-L fumbled on its punt attempt to give the Bruins possession at the Clipper 38-yard line.
Four plays later, the Bruins scored again — this time on a fluke play.
Schwab took the ball up the middle and as the pile pushed toward the end zone, the ball popped into the air and backwards.
Venegas caught the fumble and ran into the end zone to give St. Bede the lead for good with 7 minutes left in the first half.
“We went to Schwaby on the fullback dive,” Venegas said. “He was pushing. The line was going in. I guess one of the Amboy players stripped it out. I had my hands in my warmer. I pulled them out, saw the ball and took off and ran. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Although he didn’t score, senior Bobby Morrow did the bulk of the work on the ground. He ran the ball 17 times for 101 yards with most coming to the right side.
“Bobby was running behind my son, (Joe) Pyszka and (Brandon) Pietrowski, and that’s a strong side for us,” John Bellino said. “The other side has been doing well, but didn’t have a good night tonight. They were a little outmanned there. Bobby has a lot of confidence in running behind them and Justin Shaw blocking for him.”
Note: Amboy-LaMoille won the sophomore game 20-12.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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