PERU — St. Bede quarterback John Brady invited some friends to the end zone Friday as the Bruins’ improved passing efficiency helped pave the way to a 41-20 victory over Erie-Prophetstown in a Three Rivers Conference crossover.
After running for all four of St. Bede’s touchdowns in last week’s season-opening win at Sherrard, Brady ran for two more Friday while also throwing four touchdown passes to four different receivers.
“We were pretty one-dimensional last week,” St. Bede coach Jim Eustice said. “We felt like for us to get where we want to go we’ve got to be a little more diverse and get more people involved.”
The Bruins (2-0) found the end zone for the first time on a fourth down play from the E-P 19-yard line.
Brady lofted a pass over the Panther defense to Thomas Makransky in the end zone.
St. Bede scored a two-point conversion on a broken play as holder Ryan Brady scooped up a low snap on a kick attempt, darted to his left and passed to Grady Gillan.
Erie-Prophetstown was forced to punt on the next drive, but the Bruins mishandled the return and the Panthers’ Zeb Wickes pounced on the ball at the hosts’ 24-yard line
Three plays later, E-P was on the board via Jace Grunder’s 4-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers set up to kick their extra point, but holder Shawn Cannavo executed a fake and ran for the right corner of the end zone.
With 5:02 left in the first quarter, score was deadlocked at 8-8.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times with some uncharacteristic mistakes,” Eustice said. “But the team was resilient and our defense played very well.”
The Bruins jumped back in front three minutes later following John Brady’s 5-yard scoring pass to Connor Brown, but their next two drives resulted in turnovers on downs.
Taking over after the second fourth down attempt at its own 9-yard line, E-P delivered the longest play of the night as Grunder took an option pitch from quarterback Jack Minssen and sprinted down the right sideline 91 yards to the end zone.
Minssen’s two-point conversion pass was broken up by Ryan Brady, preserving a 15-14 lead for the Bruins with 5:14 left in the half.
Facing yet another fourth down, St. Bede scored the final touchdown of the first half from 6 yards out as John Brady called his own number and tucked in behind his offensive line.
The Bruins owned a 21-14 edge at the break and passed for 161 yards after throwing for just 122 in last Friday’s win.
St. Bede recovered an errant punt snap on the Panthers’ first drive of the second half and soon turned it into a 9-yard TD pass to Ben Wallace.
E-P put together its biggest pass play of the evening, a 59-yard touchdown toss from Minssen to Tyler Ballard to pull within 27-20 midway through the third period.
Grunder forced a fumble to give the visitors a chance for a game-tying score, but Ryan Brady intercepted a pass in the end zone to register a pick for the second straight week.
Facing fourth-and-16 at the Panthers’ 36, John Brady lofted a pass to Brown, who outleaped Cannavo for a reception and a 34-yard gain.
Another quarterback sneak put John Brady in the end zone a second time, giving the Bruins some breathing room at 34-20.
Landon Jackson ended the Panthers’ next drive with an interception, also his second straight game with a pick, and John Brady closed the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ben Wallace.
John Brady completed 16 of 27 passes for 244 yards while also gaining 143 yards on 23 rushes.
Wallace caught five passes for 36 yards, while Calym Setser (68 yards) and Makransky (52) each made four grabs and Brown caught three for a team-high 80 yards.
Ryan Brady made a game-high 14 tackles and Nathan Lough finished with seven.
“Being Spirit Week all week, there were a lot of distractions,” Eustice said. “But we had some great senior leadership and the coaching staff did a great job.”
Grunder ran for 215 yards for E-P (1-1) on 19 carries. Ballard ran for 52 yards on 11 attempts while catching four passes for 80 yards.
Grunder also made a team-high 10 tackles, including a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
St. Bede hosts Kewanee (1-1), a 16-14 winner over Morrison, next Friday, while E-P plays Sherrard (0-2) at home.