Even a Lafayette Jeff mistake resulted in its own touchdown, unlike how last week’s loss at Kokomo transpired.
From Friday night’s opening kickoff, you could tell this was going to be a different outcome for the Bronchos, which pounced on Anderson early and cruised to a 40-0 victory at Scheumann Stadium.
Jeff (4-2, 2-2 North Central Conference) committed six turnovers at Kokomo, but even a first-quarter fumble Friday by quarterback Devon Colonis was recovered by junior offensive lineman Julius Gibbs in the end zone.
“The bounce back was very important,” said senior running back Bernard Celestin, who rushed for 149 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. “We came out against Kokomo quiet. We didn’t show up to play. We had to get our heads right in practice and come out more sound and more alive than ever.”
The emotional lift was delivered by Darian Collins.
The senior returned the opening kickoff 90 yards, leaving little doubt where the Bronchos were mentally. Celestin added a 25-yard touchdown run about four minutes later and by the time the first quarter ended, Jeff held a commanding 20-0 lead.
“It was amazing,” Collins said. “We wanted to set the tempo from the beginning. It was a left return and I saw one guy, cut it back up and it was all green.”
Before first-year coach Brian Moore arrived, the Bronchos didn’t recover after losses the last two seasons. They’ve come back after losses to McCutcheon and Kokomo, avoided a two-game losing streak so far.
“We had a great week of practice and we came out like we had a great week of practice,” Moore said. “We moved the ball up and down the field and we defended them very well.”
Latrell Brown and Noah Lee added second-half touchdown runs as the Bronchos rushed for 261 yards and 50 carries.
Friday was Jeff’s second shutout this season, along with a 26-0 victory over South Bend St. Joseph’s in the second week. It’s the first time since 2006 the Bronchos have registered at least two shutouts in the same season.
Jeff collected eight tackles for loss during the first three quarters, helping limit the Indians (2-4, 1-3) to only five rushing yards overall.
“We’re always on the border of being, ‘How good are we? And how good can we be?’ ” Moore said. “We’ve got to be able to do that. We were able to swarm and shut them down.”
But maybe the biggest sign is the ability to rebound after disappointing defeats, an indication this year’s team is maturing.
“Last week, we didn’t step up. This week in practice was great,” Celestin said. “Everybody’s been focused and we wanted to come into the game knowing we were going to win. We still didn’t play our best football, but we got the win.”