Trojans fall to Storm, 35-14

Mendota defender Gavin Evans gets down low for a stop of Bureau Valley running back Elijah Endress on Sept. 22 at Manlius. (Reporter photo)

MANLIUS - After a rough first four games of the season, Mendota was in desperate need of a confidence-builder. And although its game with Bureau Valley didn’t go the way it hoped on the scoreboard, there were still some positive signs.

The Trojans stuck the ball in the end zone two times - the same number of touchdowns they had through the first four games - and were within striking distance through the first half of the contest before the Storm pulled away for a 35-14 Three Rivers Conference win on Sept. 22 at Manlius.

Mendota fell to 0-5 overall and 0-3 in the league, while Bureau Valley is 3-2 and 2-1.

While Mendota still struggled to run the football, the passing game put up numbers reminiscent of last year. Justin Randolph completed 22 of 42 passes for 225 yards, with receiver Braiden Freeman having a break-out game with eight receptions for 109 yards.

Bureau Valley did all of its offensive damage on the ground, running 43 times for 427 yards. Elijah Endress shouldered a bulk of the load, churning out 239 yards in 21 totes and scoring all five of Bureau Valley’s touchdowns. Cameron Lemons added 104 yards in 11 carries. The Storm did not attempt a pass.

The Trojans were able to move the football from the start, taking the opening drive of the game from their own 40 to the Storm 8-yard line. But Randolph was sacked by the Storm defense for a 7-yard loss and Mendota eventually turned the ball over on downs.

On Bureau Valley’s first series, it also moved the ball inside the 10-yard line, but Lemons fumbled and Mendota’s Rhett Watson recovered the ball at the Trojan 8-yard line.

After Mendota’s second possession resulted in a punt, Bureau Valley got the scoring started when it traveled just 35 yards in four plays, with Endress scoring on a 1-yard run with 9:54 left in the second quarter. Brock Shane drilled the extra-point kick.

The Trojans started their ensuing possession at their own 34 and used 10 plays to cover the 66-yard distance to the end zone, capped off by a Randolph 3-yard TD run. Angil Serrano’s successful PAT kick tied the game. Pass plays for 23 yards to Keegan Beetz and 19 yards to Freeman keyed the drive.

The Storm was able to break the tie and take a 14-7 lead to intermission when Endress finalized a seven-play, 56-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:36 left in the half. Shane’s extra-point kick was good.

Mendota used long pass completions to Beetz and Freeman to advance the ball to the Bureau Valley 27, but a pass interference penalty on the Trojans put the damper on that drive as the half ended.

Bureau Valley stretched its lead with two third-quarter touchdowns. The Storm received the second-half kickoff and went 60 yards in four plays. A 21-yard run to the end zone by Endress finished off the drive in less than two minutes. Shane added the PAT kick.

Each team exchanged fumbles, with Mendota’s Gavin Evans pouncing on a Bureau Valley miscue, but on the Trojans’ ensuing play, Wyatt Ossman was hit hard after a pass reception and the ball was jarred loose and recovered by the Storm at the Mendota 45. Eight plays later, Bureau Valley was back in the end zone on a 7-yard TD run by Endress with 36 seconds left in the third. Shane’s kick made it 28-7.

The Trojans put together their best drive of the season on their next possession. They kept the ball for six minutes and used 17 plays to go 81 yards for their second touchdown of the game. Randolph connected with Aden Tillman on a slant pass from 11 yards out, followed by a Serrano extra-point kick to make it 28-14.

Bureau Valley finished off the scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run by Endress with 1:08 left. Shane added the extra point.