Bloom ends Crete-Monee’s conference streak

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Crete-Monee hadn’t lost a conference football game since Week 7 of the 2007 season, a streak that covered 34 games.

Bloom nearly ended the Warriors streak last season, but fell short 12-7.

The Blazing Trojans didn’t come up short Saturday.

Behind a monumental effort by its defense, led by linebacker Kyle Pugh, Bloom upended Crete-Monee 8-7 in a Southland Conference nail-biter in Steger.

It was Crete-Monee’s first conference loss in nearly seven full seasons. Its previous Southland loss was 20-15 to Rich East in 2007.

“We were definitely aware of the streak,” Pugh said. “It feels good to bring back some pride to Bloom football.”

The difference between victory and defeat Saturday for Bloom turned out to be a bad snap on a Crete-Monee punt attempt that forced punter Clint Ratkovich to run out of the end zone for a safety with 7:21 left in the fourth quarter. The two points turned a 7-6 deficit into an 8-7 lead for Bloom (5-1, 2-0).

“I’ve been on the other side of those things happening,” Crete-Monee coach John Konecki said. “You see a lot of different things. We had multiple opportunities to put some points on the board.”

After failing to take advantage of ideal field position in the first half, Bloom found the end zone in an unlikely manner.

Crete-Monee (3-3, 2-1) was on the Bloom 1-yard line with two seconds remaining in the second quarter, when quarterback Frank Douglas rolled to his right looking for a receiver. Instead, Bloom cornerback Trenton Gilbert stepped in front of Douglas’ pass at the goal line and raced 100 yards to pay dirt as time expired for a 6-0 lead at intermission.

“It was a big play,” Gilbert said. “I saw the pass come my way and I tried to make something happen.”

Bloom returned the favor on its first possession of the second half. Quarterback Jordan Benavides’ ill-advised pass was intercepted by the Warriors’ Drew Harvey, who returned it 18 yards for a touchdown. Carlos Soto added the PAT for a 7-6 Crete-Monee lead at 9:26 of the third quarter.

Benavides, however, made amends, specifically after Bloom had taken the 8-7 lead. Benavides carried the ball 12 consecutive times on the Blazing Trojans’ ensuing possession, eating valuable time off the clock and keeping the Warriors offense on the sideline.

“Crete-Monee is a great ballclub. They’re a dynasty,” Benavides said. “We knew that they hadn’t lost a game in conference in a long time. This is a great accomplishment for our team, program and fans.”

Bloom advanced into the Warriors’ red zone on three occasions in the first half — to the 15-, 15- and 3-yard line — but failed to produce any points.

Benavides carried the ball 36 times for 93 yards and completed 3 of 12 passes for 29 yards. Emmanuel Williams had 51 yards on 10 carries for Bloom. Jeff Sellers had a big game on the defensive line for Bloom.

It was a tough day at the office for Crete-Monee’s offense, which rushed for 72 yards and passed for 53 yards. Douglas finished with a team-high 40 yards on the ground and was 6-for-18 for 53 yards through the air.

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