BOLINGBROOK | The reality of the playoffs struck in the second quarter Saturday night, and it hit Bloom Township hard.
After a scoreless first quarter, top-ranked Bolingbrook took advantage of four Blazing Trojans turnovers in under seven minutes to score four touchdowns, then collected two more for a six-touchdown lead at the half to ensure a running clock and a quick exit from the Class 8A playoffs for Bloom.
The final score, 48-12, didn't reflect how dominant the Bolingbrook defense was in the second and third quarters.
It also didn't reflect how gallantly Bloom had played, both early, when its offense was moving the ball, and late, when the first-teamers were still in there. The payoff, a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns and some big plays, helped the Blazing Trojans win the yardage battle, 231-216, at least.
What killed their hope for the biggest playoff upset in nearly 30 years was the first of two blocked punts. Marcus Michi swatted down Steve Hanus' punt on the third play of the second quarter, and Bolingbrook's Julian Huff ran in the loose ball from the Bloom 3 with 11:06 left in the half.
"When they got the punt, our momentum went downhill, and then more downhill, and we just started falling," back Justus Brantley said. "We gave up, and we should have (had) faith in each other and kept going."
Brantley accounted for 125 yards, 101 coming on five passes from Jordan Benevides, but the Raiders neither bent nor broke defensively when it mattered.
"The kids knew we couldn't make mistakes against a great team like that and expect to win," Bloom coach Tony Palombi said. "We took it to them for a little bit, but their athleticism and strength came out. Their experience in the playoffs showed."
Bloom's defense had already staged a goal-line stand to negate an earlier turnover, but three more turnovers deep in Bloom territory followed on the next three possessions, and the Raiders pounced, scoring twice on the first play of their next drive and then on the second snap. The three touchdowns, on a 1-yard plunge by Quincy Woods, a 27-yard jaunt by Jaden Huff and an 18-yard pass from Woods to Huff, were scored in 4, 9 and 10 seconds respectively.
Two more scores before the half ensured a running clock, and the Trojans (5-5), in the second playoff appearance in as many years, looked as if they had been crushed by an anvil falling from the sky.
"That's the team you have to prepare for," Palombi told his players after the game.
Bloom's scores came on a 75 yard pass from Benevides to Jonah Wiley and Benevides' 16-yard run.
Bolingbrook (10-0) plays Marist (7-3) in the second round. The RedHawks pummeled Plainfield South, 64-28, on Friday night.