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Friday Night Lights: Bells Fall to Visiting Gonzaga Prep

Bells on defense against Gonzaga prep Photo credit: Robby Cordova

By: Charlie Logan ’18

SAN JOSE – With just under three minutes remaining in the first quarter, Gonzaga Prep quarterback Connor Halonen found receiver Eric Floyd down the left sideline for an 81-yard touchdown to give the Bullpups a two-touchdown lead over Bellarmine. The touchdown was the first passing play of the game for Gonzaga as they beautifully set up the play-action by establishing a strong ground game on the first two drives.

The Bullpups persistent rushing attack and strong defense proved too much for the Bells, as Bellarmine fell to the visitors from Washington, 38-19 at home.

Gonzaga’s strong rushing attack was led primarily by senior running back Kasey Anthony and junior quarterback Connor Halonen, each contributing over 100 yards on the ground. The first drive for the Bullpups was all Anthony, rushing for 41 yards on five carries and punching in the first score of the game. Anthony would finish the game with 108 yards rushing on 18 carries and two touchdowns.

Just as Gonzaga looked as though they were going to run away with the two-touchdown lead, Bellarmine found hope in some big plays. As the first quarter drew to a close, quarterback Nick Teresi 20′ cut outside on an option play, breaking free for a 48-yard touchdown run to put the Bells on the board. The Bells’ defense forced a quick punt, allowing the offense to march down and set up a three-yard touchdown run by Tyson Garcia 19′, cutting the lead to one point at 14-13.

It is worth noting Teresi 20′ is only a sophomore, stepping up big time as Bellarmine faced injuries to quarterbacks Harry Mingrone 19′ and Jack Devine 18′, and to running back Noah Laine 18′. Garcia wound up with 114 yards and a touchdown on six carries, including an 83-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. Teresi 20′ finished with 58 yards and a touchdown on six carries, while attempting only five passes. Gonzaga Prep’s defense also did an admirable job containing Bells standout Austin Ajiake 18′, limiting him to 75 yards on 16 carries.

“A lot of guys definitely had to grow up tonight because we did have a lot of injuries and some guys had to step in to play,” said Bellarmine head coach Mike Janda, “They definitely fought hard against a very good team. We got off some decent plays, but way too many mistakes to win the ballgame.”

Despite the explosive play by the Bellarmine sophomores, Gonzaga seemed to control the game all the way through. The Bullpups responded to the Bellarmine’s second quarter rally with a 26-yard field goal by kicker Hunter McKenna and a 31-yard touchdown run on fourth down by Sam Lockett 18′. After the three-yard Garcia run for the Bells, Gonzaga outscored Bellarmine 24-6 over the course of the game to pull away for the final score.

The second half dominance of the Bullpup’s was due in large part to the play of Halonen and his effectiveness in running the read option alongside Anthony.

“There was a lot of really good play by the offensive line,” said Halonen. “Running the ball is real easy for us when we can get such good blocks up front.”

The junior quarterback finished the game with 126 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries on the ground, while adding 97 yards and a touchdown through the air.

Bellarmine and Gonzaga both stuck to what they do best: running the ball. Both teams combined to attempt only 13 passes throughout the game. Gonzaga proved to be more effective on the ground, making their 900-mile trip worthwhile.

Gonzaga Prep head coach David McKenna expressed his appreciation for Bellarmine’s hospitality and for his team’s hard work.

“It just means the world, the hospitality they have shown us, to share a lunch and a holy mass together. Both teams are going to fight, they want to win, we want to win, but to me, that is what it is all about,” said McKenna. “To come down here and get a win and play as well as we did at times is wonderful for our team.”

Gonzaga Prep will head back to Washington and prepare to face Lewis and Clark on Friday. Janda said that Bellarmine will hope to rest up and work on some of the careless play, as they have no game next Friday and begin to prepare for their WCAL opener against Archbishop Mitty on September 22.

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