CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Bloom Township's offense found the play that was working for them, and they stuck with it.
Blazing Trojan running back Justus Brantley took three first-half Kendall McGinnis shuffle passes for touchdowns, and Bloom Township came away with a 34-13 victory over Thornwood after a two-hour weather delay. McGinnis completed his first pass of the game for a 48-yard flip to Brantley with 4:36 remaining in the first quarter to give Bloom the early 6-0 lead.
"That play mainly worked because we have a Division I running back here," McGinnis said of Brantley. "We weren't worried about the rain, we were just ready to play."
McGinnis then connected with Brantley on two second-quarter shuffle passes, including a 73-yard touchdown catch and run by Brantley with just seven seconds remaining in the half. Brantley's 73-yard TD answered a Thornwood touchdown drive that ended in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Thunderbirds quarterback DaQuan Ritchie to Darrion Davis.
"We don't say 'as one' for nothing," Brantley said. "I believed in my line today, and we got it done. We're one team, everything we do, we do it together."
Thornwood came out running in the second half, and the Thunderbirds cut the Bloom lead to 22-13 after an eight-play, 92-yard scoring drive to start the third quarter. The drive was capped by a 34-yard touchdown run by Ritchie.
"We figured we would go to our veer play," Thornwood coach Bill Bundy said. "And it was wide open, so we figured we would go with it. They ended up taking that away in the fourth, and we couldn't adjust and dropped too many balls."
Bloom answered Thornwood with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Brantley recorded his first TD on the ground with a 5-yard carry, and McGinnis found Jordan Benavides for a 39-yard touchdown pass to extend the Bloom lead to 34-13.
"We had a lot of adversity with penalties," Bloom head coach Tony Palombi said. "The kids just kept fighting back through that. Being a close game, they kept fighting back and kept their group together."