By Carlos Alfaro
SILVER SPRING — It was not a good Friday night for the Blake Bengals, as they lost their homecoming game in a frigid match against a strong Churchill Bulldogs which confidently won, 39-20.
On paper, both teams were coming in with identical records: five wins and one loss. The Bulldogs were coming off of a rough loss to the Northwest Jaguars, while the Bengals walloped the Northwood Gladiators last week.
The Bulldogs outlasted the Bengals with their momentum, and once their lead was widened enough, each Bengals mistake became exponentially more costly. A game that started at a narrow one-point lead for the Bengals in the first quarter quickly turned into a 17-point lead for the Bulldogs going into halftime.
The first touchdown was from the Bulldogs’ junior running back, Rocco Tranquill, after a dash into the end zone, which netted six points for the visiting team.
But calling Tranquill a “running back” doesn’t exactly do him justice: he was also the kicker who was a perfect four-for-four on extra-point attempts, including after every one of his three touchdowns.
“I think Rocco stepped up and made some great plays on both sides of the ball,” said Bulldogs head coach Willie Williams.
On the Bengals’ first drive, they retaliated when senior running back Vernon Batson made a five-yard carry into the end zone, then followed up by completing a two-point conversion. With Batson’s eight points, the Bengals went into the second quarter leading by one.
The Bulldogs started the second quarter with a field goal by Tranquill, after trudging down to the nine-yard line on fourth down, giving them a two-point lead over the Bengals they would never relinquish.
Senior Bulldogs quarterback Michael Janis carried the ball into the end zone from the 16-yard line for the Bulldogs’ second touchdown of the night.
After a Bengals turnover, Tranquill scored his second touchdown of the night with a short one-yard dash into the end zone, helping his team to a 25-8 lead into halftime.
“It was the line. The line did it for us,” said Tranquill.
In the potential sign of a comeback, the Bengals scored off of a touchdown by junior wide receiver Isaiah Smith. A lob by senior quarterback Brendan LeJeune caught Smith completely unguarded in the red zone and made for one of the easiest scores of the night.
Tranquill’s last touchdown of the night ended all hopes of that, as another short dash and successful kick widened the Bulldogs’ lead to 32-14 going into the fourth quarter.
Senior wide receiver Max Mantz scored a red-zone touchdown, the Bulldogs’ last of the night, to create an almost insurmountable 39-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Bengals senior running back Sabionn Adams scored the last touchdown for the home team, but it was too little, too late: even a strong late-quarter showing couldn’t save the Bengals from inevitable defeat.
“Brendan didn’t have his best game tonight. Churchill did a good job of putting pressure on him. We had opportunities, and he wasn’t seeing the field like we expected him tonight,” said Bengals head coach DeShawn Anderson. “It happens; we played a pretty good team.”