MENDOTA – St. Bede came into Friday’s regular-season finale at Mendota looking for a jolt of energy to snap the Bruins out of a two-game skid.
Callan Hueneberg sent a shockwave through the green-clad faithful by returning the opening kickoff 71 yards for a touchdown.
Quarterback John Brady ran for the 2-point conversion.
The early spark sent the Bruins on their way to a 39-20 victory in a Three Rivers Conference Mississippi Division game.
“What a great way to start,” St. Bede coach Jim Eustice said. “Our kids played great tonight. They’ve had some adversity the last couple of weeks, but life is all about how you respond to it.”
The Bruins’ second scoring drive opened when the visitors stopped Mendota (3-6, 1-5 TRC Mississippi Division) on downs at the St. Bede 36-yard line.
Just over two minutes later, Brady ran to his left and picked his way through the defense for a 35-yard touchdown run. Brady’s conversion pass to Halden Hueneberg made it a 16-0 lead with 8:15 left in the first half.
The Bruins’ final drive of the first half nearly stalled as they faced fourth down at the Mendota 25.
Brady completed a 19-yard pass to Ben Wallace, setting up first-and-goal and the 6-yard line. The quarterback then plunged across the goal line for a 1-yard score three plays later. The visitors went into halftime with a 22-0 edge.
The Trojans opened the second half with a kickoff return score of their own as Ryne Strouss fielded the ball and raced 79 yards for Mendota’s first touchdown.
St. Bede (7-2, 5-1), however, countered with a 12-yard touchdown run by Brady with 8:52 left in the third period, and the senior added a fourth score, this time from 20 yards, to extend the lead to 36-6 with 1:47 on the third-quarter clock.
Mendota’s Anthony Childs ran up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal to close the gap to 36-12, though Bruin kicker Ryan Sollmin connected on a 22-yard field goal with 1:24 to play.
The Trojans had time enough to tack on the night’s final score, a 64-yard pass from Justin Randolph to Braiden Freeman.
St. Bede owned a narrow 331-306 edge in total yards. Brady ran 20 times for 159 yards while completing 11 of 19 passes for 114. Wallace caught three passes for a team-high 56 receiving yards. Ryan Brady led the Bruins’ defense with 12 tackles, while Nate Lough totaled 10.
Randolph completed 8 of 23 passes for 117 yards for the Trojans, while Isaac Smith gained a team-best 99 rushing yards on 19 carries and Childs finished with 72 yards on 20 rushes. Strouss made nine tackles and Childs collected eight.