MONMOUTH – On first down, on the first series of the second half, the St. Bede Bruins appeared to have stopped Monmouth-Roseville’s Martel Hunter for a three-yard loss. Instead, Hunter slipped through the Bruin defenders’ arms and turned the broken play into a 38-yard gain.
This play typified the second half of this first-round playoff game Saturday evening – the Bruins would come close, but never be able to take control of the Monmouth-Roseville Titans, falling 40-27 to end their season 7-3.
“You can see it on tape, but you don’t known how good he really is,” St. Bede coach John Bellino said of Hunter. “He’s hard to get a hold of and hard to bring down. His line does a nice job for him, but he picks and weaves his way through.”
“He’s just a really good player for us,” M-R coach Jeremy Adolphson said of his junior running back. “He just makes plays. He’s one of those guys where, if you give him a crack, he’s going to take it. He doesn’t make bad decisions. And the thing that is really nice for us, is that he’s our best blocker, too. The thing that most people forget is that he’s really fast, but he’s also the most physical player on the field most nights.”
The problems for the Bruins started early. They seemed to be running on all cylinders on their opening drive, moving the ball from their 31-yard line to the Titans’ 32 in seven plays. On third-and-one, Michael Bellino had gained the first down, but the Titans stripped the ball in the pile to end the Bruins’ threat.
Hunter didn’t waste any time showing off his ability to break a run. He took the ball six yards on his first carry, then broke free for 62 yards on second down for the first score of the game with less than three minutes expired. Then Alejadro Godina kick gave the home team a 7-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
The Bruins marched the ball down field on their next drive.
Bobby Morrow highlighted the 80-yard drive with runs of 20 and 12-yards before taking the ball the final two for the score. The Titans blocked the conversion kick to maintain a slim 7-6 lead.
Following an exchange of punts, the “Martel show” returned.
Hunter carried the ball six times for 25 yards before grabbing a Tanner Woods pass for 21 yards and his team’s second score of the night.
The Titans took a 13-6 lead into halftime.
After the break, Hunter’s 38-yard first-down run highlighted the Titans’ nine-play opening drive, which he also finished with a one-yard run. The two-point conversion pass put the home team up 21-6.
St. Bede answered, though. Morrow, who finished the night with 147 yards rushing and 51 receiving, had a long first-down run of 26 yards to highlight a 59-yard scoring drive. Morrow also finished the drive with a six-yard run. The failed conversion run left the Bruins down two scores, however, 21-12.
Hunter took the ball on all six of plays of the Titans next 57-yard scoring drive, capping it off with a 33-yard run. The run failed, however, leaving the Bruins with a glimmer of hope, down 27-12, as time was running out in the third quarter.
The glimmer became brighter as the Bruins needed only 1:22 to get within one score, 27-19. The drive was highlighted by a 38-yard pass from Venegas to Morrow and a Morrow 23-yard run before Schwab finished it with a two-yard run and Santiago Galatas hit the extra-point kick.
Hope began to fade, however, when Hunter carried the ball four times for 26-yards before scoring his fifth touchdown of the night with 8:22 to put the Titans up 33-19.
The Bruins’ hopes were ended when Skyler Goodwin stepped in front of a Venegas pass with 4:15 left to play in the game giving the Titans the ball at St. Bede’s 31.
Goodwin put the final nail in the coffin five plays later with a three-yard run. The Rosenberg kick put the Titans up three scores, 40-19 with 2:09 left to play.
Venegas was good on four of seven passes, three to Brad Groleau, including the 10-yard touchdown throw, in the Bruins’ final drive. He also hit Shaw for the two-point conversion to close the scoring.
“Great season,” Bellino said when asked to summarize. “Our kids played very, very well. We played hard here. I mean we went down and scored again here. Our kids performed well. We’re going to miss the seniors.”
The Bruins played in Class 3A after reaching the 1A quarterfinals a year ago.