CHAMPAIGN – Losing two fumbles kept a lid on Bloomington High School’s football team the first half on Friday, but the Purple Raiders blew the lid off in the second half to down Champaign Central, 52-6.
BHS (3-1, 3-1) scored 21 points in the first 3:27 of the second half to go up 45-0 and force a running clock. That flurry began with a 97-yard kickoff return by Emerson Evans, who finished with two TDs and 62 yards on six rushes.
“I was just trying to get my team in good position to score on offense,” said Evans of his return. “My teammates did good blocking so I saw the hole right away. I just hit it hard.”
On the next play from scrimmage, Adam Swords of BHS ran back an interception 25 yards to make it 38-0. Just 3:05 later, Kendrick Cooley scored on an 18-yard run to get the clock rolling.
Cooley finished with 113 yards on seven carries while Chance Mendiola chipped in five carries for 40 yards and a score.
“Both Emerson and Kendrick have the ability to see a good field,” said BHS coach Rigo Schmelzer. “They cut back well, have great balance.”
Jake Romani balanced the BHS offense by completing 6 of 9 passes for 104 yards and one score. A few dropped passes kept him from bigger things. Josh Hoye caught three balls for 59 yards.
“He plays a lot bigger than his (5-foot-5) size and he’s got great hands,” Schmelzer said of Hoye.
BHS scored on its first three possessions beginning with a 10-play, 94-yard drive capped by an Evans TD run from 5 yards out. Holder Devaughn Dix grabbed a high snap and ran for the conversion.
Just 2:26 later, Davin Biggs scored on a 25-yard pass from Romani.
A Jordan Somlar fumble recovery set up a 26-yard BHS scoring drive. Mendiola did the honors with a 2-yard plunge. John Kissel added the one of his five conversion kicks to make it 21-0. Kissel converted a 25-yard field goal with 1.2 seconds left to end the first-half scoring.
Champaign Central (0-4, 0-4), which has been outscored 148-27 this season, looked good on a 43-yard drive that included three first downs to open the game, but that drive died at the BHS 34-yard line.
“It was an encouraging drive and then we stalled out,” said Champaign coach Brett Roberts. “That whole (BHS) team has a lot of speed. That is one place where we are deficient.”
The BHS defense forced Champaign into five three-and-out possessions. The Maroons were outgained, 326-211.
“I think we still have room for improvement,” Schmelzer said. “We need to be a little bit more aggressive off the corners when we are in our prevent defense.”
BHS ended its scoring with a 4-yard run by Jacob Blankenship. Champaign Central avoided the shutout with Rylin Newman’s 5-yard run against the BHS reserves with 5:18 left.