Down 14-0 midway through the second quarter, Belleville drove deep into Bloomfield territory and threatened to turn to turn a one-sided game into a too-close-for-comfort affair in the home team's first game at Foley Field since 2008.
Mike Carter knew this would happen.
“We knew coming in that the Belleville kids are tough kids,” the longtime Bloomfield coach said. “We told the kids it was going to be a thing where you bend one way or the other and that's where you've got to make your stand.”
After marching to the Bengals' 7, Belleville was whistled for two penalties that backed it out field-goal range before giving the ball back to its neighboring rival on downs. Six plays later, the Bengals scored again and never looked back in a 42-7 victory before more than 1,500 fans in Friday night's season opener between these Super Essex Conference squads.
Bloomfield easily marched downfield on its first two drives, taking a 14-0 lead as junior John Varner )134 all-purpose yards, 2 Tds) found paydirt on a 15-yard run and senior quarterback Mike Carter, the coach's son who was making his first varsity start, clicked with classmate Miguel Tirado on a 15-yard scoring strike. Carter completed his first seven passes and finished 8 of 9 for 118 yards.
Upon getting the ball back, Belleville used its ground game – and an 11-yard pass off a fake punt from junior Brandon Richardson to senior Steven Huaman – to make the first of its two trips into the red zone. However, a pair of illegal procedure penalties knocked the Bucs out of field-goal range and Richardson's end-zone heave on fourth-down intended for Leman Kaifa fell incomplete to squash a once-promising 17-play, 60-yard drive that bled 7:28 off the clock.
On cue, Carter returned to guide the Bengals downfield. After connecting with Varner for a 29-yard toss on third-and-7, he ran 35 yards untouched up the right sideline to stake Bloomfield to a 21-0 lead 3:37 before intermission.
“I just thought, 'If they're blitzing, we're going to get yards,'” Carter said. “We were pounding the ball, scoring points.”
Meanwhile, the Bloomfield defense, sparked by junior linebacker Jeovan Sanders' 21-tackle performance, limited Belleville to just 122 yards of offense. Forty two of those came on the Bucs' lone scoring drive in the fourth quarter, capped when junior Shaquell Richards crossed the goal line from a yard out with 7:36 remaining to make it 28-7.
“This whole week, we've been watching a lot of film and preparing for what they ran at us,” Sanders said. “As soon as they made their first step, I knew what the play was. Coach really prepared us well.”
On its final two drives, Bloomfield relied exclusively on its ground game, getting a one-yard run from Carter and a six-yard scamper by senior Kurt Collins to conclude the scoring.
Meanwhile, Belleville will look to regroup from its first game under first-year coach John Dubuque before next Friday's home opener against West Side High School. There were some positives: Besides sustaining a couple of extended drives, junior Pedro Acevedo, Jr.'s, amassed a team-high 60 yards rushing and senior captain Armando Ramos recovered a fumble.
“Our kids came out ready to go. They came out well prepared,” Dubuque said. “But (Bloomfield) just has more numbers than we do. We were playing with basically 16 kids and there were few substitutions, so those kids had to play their butts off.”
See more last night on BloomfieldPatch.com.