With 94 points, 900 yards of offense and 13 touchdowns, it all came down to defense.
In quite likely, the valley's wildest, most entertaining game of the 2011 season, Bellaire and Harrison Central left nothing to chance in a sizzling Saturday afternoon shootout at sunny Nelson Field.
As it turned out, they were just getting warmed up following four blistering quarters of regulation with the scoreboard reading 37-37.
Two tension-filled overtime periods later, Jose Davis and the Big Reds had literally found a way to pull off a 50-44 victory.
"Crazy, man. That game was just crazy," a winded Davis grinned in the midst of a raucous Big Reds' lockerroom. "We needed this one...we really did."
Imagine then the doom and gloom for Justin Kropka and his heartbroken Huskies who were in position to prevail before committing a game-ending turnover.
BELLAIRE’S Chuckie Myers is wrapped up after making a catch during the first half by Harrison Central’s Jonah Moore during Saturday’s game at Nelson Field. The Big Reds prevailed, 50-44, in double overtime. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"What a sickening feeling this is," a grim Kropka related. "There definitely were no losers out on that field today. Just give Bellaire credit. They made one more play than we did."
The Reds were forced to do so after stellar sophomore quarterback Spencer Badia was forced to the sidelines after taking a hit from behind with 3:44 remaining in regulation.
According to Davis, Badia sustained an injury to his non-throwing hand but was unable to return. His status for next week's game at Union Local is uncertain.
Before leaving, Badia threw for 299 yards and four touchdowns. He also scrambled 33 yards for another six-pointer.
With Badia on the shelf, Davis turned to senior Manny Ray who went above and beyond the call during the two OT periods.
After Huskies' mainstay Maurtice Hython slanted over for the first TD of overtime, J.P. Colnaghi's conversion had HC on top 44-37.
Ray, though, rallied the Reds, finding classmate Chuckie Myers in the end zone from seven yards out. Dalton Conroy's conversion earned a 44-44 knot.
Bellaire gained the first possession of the second OT. Facing third and 11, Ray found Derek Bradshaw for a big-time 16-yard gainer.
Two plays later following a Reds' penalty, Ray was flushed right but delivered a quick strike to Bradshaw who made a sterling reception for an 11-yard score. When Bellaire botched the ensuing conversion, Harrison had possession at the 20, trailing 50-44.
Hython gained four yards via two attempts, resulting in a third and six. Huskies' quarterback Rasheen Mitchell, making his first start since suffering a preseason injury, executed a play fake and rolled right.
Bellaire's Bradshaw delivered a blind-side hit, forcing Mitchell to lose connections. When the Reds recovered, it was all over.
"Even with all that offense, we made some clutch defensive plays," Davis advised. "So many kids stepped up and made plays on both sides of the ball.
"I can't say enough about Manny Ray. Our only other option (at quarterback) was a freshman so Manny's play out there was huge."
Mitchell was also solid, finishing 12-of-26 for 265 yards, which included a 62-yard screen pass to Hython which went for a touchdown. Mitchell also added a nine-yard scoring run.
Hython accounted for four TDs, including a trio of scoring runs. He finished with 102 rushing yards via 30 attempts. Senior Chris Hyde landed five receptions, good for 104 yards.
Bellaire's Josh Davis enjoyed a superlative afternoon, accounting for 86 (rushing) and 79 (receiving) yards. Davis' 28-yard scoring reception from Badia with five minutes remaining enabled Bellaire to gain a 37-37 deadlock.
The Reds were early 23-7 leaders before Mitchell rallied the Huskies into a 23-23 deadlock.
Harrison's secondary was burned on the first half's final play when Badia stepped up from the pocket and delivered a 42-yard scoring strike to Ray.
"That one really killed us. You just can't let that happen," Kropka observed.
Myers made six receptions (two for TDs) Bradshaw also hauled in two scoring aerials. Ray and senior Juwan Whetstone made four catches apiece.
Defensively, Pelegreen and Austin Schurr recorded pass thefts for the Huskies. Bellaire received clutch picks from junior Nick Patrone and sophomore Nick Maffe. Both Patrone and Maffe were singled out for excellent defensive work.
The now 3-4 Big Reds are at Morristown Friday to face Union Local. Harrison, also 3-4, returns to Cadiz where Indian Creek invades.
Gibson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org