St. Thomas More didn’t expect to take the lead 10 seconds into its Division II select quarterfinal game against E. D. White.
But quarterback Will Bellamy saw the opportunity, and took it, much like the host Cougars did all night against the overmatched Cardinals.
Bellamy hit Trevor Begue on a crossing route for an 80-yard touchdown on the game’s first offensive play, and STM never looked back in rolling to a 49-7 win and setting up a rematch with cross-town rival Teurlings Catholic, a 36-14 winner over De La Salle, in next week’s semifinals.
The second-seeded Cougars (9-2) scored three times on their first nine offensive plays and scored on all but two of their possessions against the seventh-seeded Cardinals (7-5). In the first half, STM ran only 17 offensive plays and led 28-0.
Bellamy had two TD passes in the first six minutes, finding Griffin Hebert on an 11-yard fade to make it 14-0, and Evan Trahan scored the next three touchdowns for the Cougars on the way to a 135-yard rushing night on only six carries.
“Give the guys up front a lot of credit,” said Trahan, who was not touched on scoring runs of 71 and 24 yards late in the first and late in the second quarter. “None of that’s possible without those guys. They made some massive holes. Going in, we were hesitant about the run game because (E.D. White) gives you so many different looks.”
The look the Cardinals gave on the first play was the wrong one, as Bellamy got his 29th touchdown pass of the year and Begue had his 16th touchdown reception when he outran the E. D. White defense through the middle and down the far sideline. It was Begue’s only catch, but it set a tone.
“Will checked to that play,” Cougars coach Jim Hightower said. “They were in the wrong coverage, and he saw it. It happened so quick, a lot of times when you score that quickly you sort of struggle from then on, but this team showed a lot of maturity.”
Bellamy hit 6-of-9 passes for 133 yards, with all but one of those completions in the first half. He led an offense that only left the field twice without scoring — once after an interception midway through the second quarter, and once when the Cardinals stopped STM on fourth down at the E.D. White 1-yard line early in the final period.
“Will did a really nice job with the offense,” Hightower said. “That’s what you expect from a veteran. But I was proud of our defense, too. ... They made the plays they needed to. (E. D. White) has three really good running backs and they do a good job of spreading the field.”
Trahan broke a second-down play for 71 yards with 1:35 left in the first quarter to give the Cougars a 21-0 lead, and late in the second quarter, he capped a six-play, 80-yard drive with a 24-yard counter. He added his third TD on a 1-yard run on STM’s first drive of the second half.
“We went in confident,” Trahan said, “but that first play, we sort of knew from there how the rest of the game was going to go”
. I think that opened up the running game for us, and it really gave us a lot of confidence.”
Begue had a 41-yard touchdown on a reverse midway through the third quarter that made it 42-0, and backup quarterback Matthew Gardner hit backup tight end Matthew Gautreaux with a 72-yard pass two minutes later for the Cougars’ final score.
The Cardinals, who had topped Loyola Prep in the opening round of the Division II playoffs last week while STM had a bue, broke the shutout with an impressive 99-yard drive that took up eight minutes of the final quarter. Backup running back Blake Grabert broke a 35-yard run up the middle for a touchdown with 1:39 left.
The Cougars lost to Teurlings Catholic 42-28 in a district game earlier this season, but will host next Friday’s semifinal courtesy of their No. 2 seeding.
“Teurlings is awfully good,” Hightower said. “They’re very solid, and they have strong personnel. We’re going to give it our best shot and see what happens.”