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By Drake Skleba
For the Bugle 

Walter's interception keys Raiders destruction of Bradley-Bourbonnais in the 'Brook's home opener

 

Last updated 3/27/2021 at 10:16pm



After falling to the defending Class 8A State Champions from Lincoln-Way East 42-14 on March 19, the Bolingbrook Raiders (1-1, 0-1) were looking to bounce back in their home-opener on Saturday.

The Raiders rebounded from the Lincoln-Way East loss in devastating fashion, destroying their guests from Bradley-Bourbonnais 44-6.

After falling behind 23-0, Bradley Bourbonnais (0-2, 0-1), scored with 45 seconds remaining in the first half on a seven-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Neal May, Jr., to junior wide receiver Levi Crider.

The Boilermakers two-point conversion was stuffed by all-state linebacker Ty McLaurin and the entire Raiders defense.

The teams went to halftime with the Raiders leading 23-6. The Boilermakers ran off the field with their heads held high.

After returning the second half kickoff to their 10 yard line, the Boilermakers drove the length of the field behind the passing of May (8-for-27, 98 yards, TD, 2 INT). May hit junior Max Robinson (two catches, 35 yards) and Crider (four catches, 51 yards, TD) on the drive and had the ball at the Raiders 16 yard-line.

May tossed up a jump-ball pass between the 6-foot-4 Crider and the Raiders' 6-foot-1 sophomore safety Damon Walters in the end zone.

Using his basketball jumping abilities, Walters out-jumped the taller Crider and clung happily to the precious football for the key interception of the game.

If the Walters surname sounds familiar, Damon's older bro's Justin and Brandon, had been contributing to Raider victories for a number of years.

"I played the ball and went up and just grabbed it and hung on," Walters said. "Yeah, I guess I used a little bit of my basketball skills. Big win today and it gives us a lot of confidence going into next week's game with Lockport."

Thirty four seconds later, Bolingbrook junior tailback Jaquan Howard (15 carries, 158 yards, TD), streaked 68-yards for a Raiders touchdown. After Raider place-kicker John Zeitler's, fourth of his six PAT's, the Raiders led 30-6.

"My offensive line did an outstanding job blocking for me," Howard said. "After Damon's big pick, it felt really good to have the big touchdown run that finished Bradley-Bourbonnais off. We will be ready for Lockport"

After forcing a Bradley punt, the Raiders took over on the Bradley 38.

A four-play, 38-yard Raider scoring drive ensued.

Senior quarterback Vincenzo Meschi (17-for-27, 238 yards, 4TD, 1 INT., three carries, 52 yards) hit on for passes, the final being his fourth touchdown strike — this time to freshman I'Marion Stewart (six catches, 71 yards, TD) from three yards out.

Raiders 37, Boilermakers 6 with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter.

In 98 seconds, a pair of Raider touchdowns to put the game away — all keyed by the Walter's INT.

Bolingbrook senior back Justin Lynch (10 carries, 86 yards,TD) concluded the scoring in the game with a 60-yard dash to the end zone for six.

Meschi and Raiders senior wide receiver Andrew McElroy (five catches, 107 yards, 2TD), connected for an 82-yard scoring strike in the first 63 seconds of the game for an early 7-0 Raiders lead.

Meschi found the other standout Raider freshman wide receiver, Kyan Berry-Johnson (four catches 43 yards,TD), from six yards out for a 14-0 Raiders lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter,

McLaurin crushed a Bradley ball carrier in the end zone for a safety and a 16-0 Raiders lead with 7:56 in the half.

"Our offense really rebounded big time after the Lincoln-Way East loss," McLaurin said. "On the safety, we had them buried inside the 10 and we thought, let's have the defense put some points on the board. Damon's interception really fired up the whole team. Damon has improved so much during the season."

One minute, 50 second later, the deadly Meschi-to-McElroy duo struck again on a 13-yard scoring strike for the 23-0 Raider lead.

"Damon's pick fired us all up," McElroy said. "We just knew we had to score and we did on Jaquan's big run. Vincenzo and I workout everyday. I just try to catch everything that's thrown my way."

"Damon's older brother Justin graduated early, so Damon had to step up," Meschi said. "He made an awesome catch on the interception and with the way they had the momentum, his pick was very instrumental to our victory. We have a very good running game that ran for over 300 yards. Our offensive line really showed up today. We can throw the ball, too. We showed today what we are capable of on offense. If we execute to our abilities, we can play with anyone."

They say a team makes it's greatest improvement between games one and two.

The Bolingbrook Raiders proved the old adage to be true.

The Raiders rushed for more than 300 yards and with Meschi's 238 passing yards, they were very close to 550 yards of total offense on a beautiful spring day in the Brook.

"Damon's older brother, Justin (Walters) graduated early," Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow said, "Brandon (Walters) is now at Army and sister Kayla (Walters), is running track at Miami Ohio. A great family that all starred for us here at Bolingbrook. An outstanding interception by Damon stopped their momentum. Over 550 yards of total offense — we really cleaned up a lot of stuff from last week and I am very happy. I sure wish we had Vince for another year. All he needs is reps to be great. He will do real well at Grand Valley State."

The Raiders will host the Lockport Porters (1-1, 1-0) on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.

 

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