GIBSONTON — In their past four meetings, Bloomingdale beat East Bay each time by one score.
The Bulls made sure there would be no such drama Friday night with a convincing 29-7 victory against the previously undefeated Indians.
Bloomingdale (3-2) scored on its first three possessions, including a 94-yard, seven-play drive that proved to be a microcosm of things to come. The Bulls held a 211-59 edge in total yardage in the first half, sending East Bay (5-1) to its first loss under veteran coach Mike Gottman, who took over the program in January after compiling a 107-83 record in 18 seasons at Durant.
It also was the fifth consecutive victory in the series by Bloomingdale since 2016 (the teams didn’t play last year).
“That’s a good thing,” Bloomingdale coach Jake Coulson said. “The game plan was to come in and establish the run, play hard and physical up front, and establish dominance. That’s what we did.”
Junior quarterback Charles Coney and senior running back Brycnn Bennett sparked Bloomingdale’s first-half blitz, combining for all three touchdowns. Bennett, who rushed for 65 yards on nine carries by intermission, capped the Bulls’ 94-yard march on a 5-yard run with 5:15 left in the first. The score preceded a 40-yard pass to junior tight end Charlie O’Brien from Coney, who completed 6 of 7 throws in the half for 114 yards.
On their next series, the Bulls marched 61 yards in 14 plays with Bennett scoring on a 17-yard screen pass from Coney on third and goal. Coney’s 3-yard run on fourth and 3 at the East Bay 12 kept the drive alive. Bennett’s two-point conversion carry increased Bloomingdale’s margin to 15-0 with 8:44 to go before halftime.
The next time East Bay had the ball, a fumble recovery by Bloomingdale senior linebacker Elijah Calhoun on a pass play at the Indians’ 40 paved the way for a Coney 1-yard touchdown carry on fourth down.
Bloomingdale didn’t punt in the first half and piled up 10 first downs as East Bay failed to advance the ball inside the Bulls’ 30.
East Bay had its chances in the second half, beginning with a fumble recovery by junior defensive end Isaac Crump at the Bloomingdale 3 — leading to a touchdown run on the ensuing play by sophomore Jaelin Sneed with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter.
The Indians got the ball back on the Bulls’ next series when East Bay senior Trent Cherry got an interception at the Indians 10. But Bloomingdale junior Christian Bodnar stopped the Indians’ momentum by returning a punt from senior Nicholas Linenberger 45 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulls a three-score lead with 7:26 left.
“We’ve played a good schedule, and I feel really good about the schedule where we’re going,” Coulson said. “We just want to peak at the right time.”
Gottman said his team can grow after the loss.
“I fully wanted to be 5-0,” he said. “I felt like all our first five games were winnable games, and I wanted to get better and better each week. I knew going into district play, the level of play was going to increase. We learned something tonight. ... We learned that we have got to raise our level of play, because this is playoff-level football.”