Jose Davis didn't like the way things were going in the first half of Saturday night's Bellaire vs. Steubenville Central high school football game, so the Big Reds' head coach lashed out at a pair of his juniors.
His tirade was mainly centered on quarterback Spencer Badia and wideout Nick Patrone.
"We played like a bunch of rookies in the early going," Davis offered. "I yelled at our two best players, who are Badia and Patrone. They are our most seasoned guys. Between blowing coverages and Spencer making bad reads, I jumped those guys in the lockerroom at halftime.
"They are the two guys that we really depend on for leadership and different things like that, but they came through in the end when it counted."
With only 4.3 seconds showing and Bellaire trailing 42-38 on the Harding Stadium scoreboard, Badia took the snap in shotgun and rifled a strike to the right corner of the end zone where Patrone snatched onto the pigskin, giving the Big Reds an improbable, 44-42, come-from-behind victory.
Following Patrone's game-winning grab, the Bellaire players, coaches and fans celebrated for several minutes on the Reno Field turf as the stunned Crusaders, and their faithful, looked on in disbelief.
"This was a real team effort," Davis continued amidst the hugs and handshakes. "We had some players step up like you wouldn't believe."
Before its spirited comeback, Bellaire found itself staring a 42-19 deficit in the face following a 56-yard scoring jaunt by the Crusaders' Doug Maslowski and Stone Romano's PAT.
However, Davis and his troops never lost focus.
"We had the ball at that time. There was about six minutes left in the third quarter, and our thought process was, if we can score at that point in time we'll only be down two touchdowns entering the fourth quarter. With the stuff we do offensively, we're going to give ourselves an opportunity at the end."
Badia drove the Big Reds' 67 yards on 11 plays, capping the 2:57 march with a 11-yard scoring strike to Quinton Crosby with 3:12 left in the third quarter. Dalton Conroy's placement cut the deficit to 42-26.
On the Crusaders' first snap following the TD, Nick Maffe pounced on a loose ball, setting Bellaire up at the Steubenville Central 30. Seven plays later, Maffe was rewarded for his defensive effort when he pounded into the end zone from a yard out. The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the visitors on the short end of a 42-32 count.
Bellaire got the ball right back after Steubenville Central couldn't convert a first down, but Badia was picked off on first down.
However, the Big Reds' defense, which surrendered 440 yards of total offense, stood tall and strong, especially in the second half. It held the Crusaders once again, forcing a punt with just under eight minutes remaining.
Badia, showing the poise that his head coach used to display during his days in Red-and-Black, marched his team 91 yards down the field. He found sophomore Hunter Westlake all alone down the far sidelines and threw a perfect strike that Westlake caught in stride before sprinting untouched into the promised land. However, Conroy's PAT sailed wide, leaving Bellaire down by four, 42-38.
Steubenville Central picked up a first down on its ensuing drive, but a 3-yard loss and a 5-yard motion penalty stalled the march and forced yet another punt.
Bellaire started at its own 33 with 3:52 on the clock. As it would turn out, the Big Reds would need all of that time.
Badia completed seven straight passes, mostly dinks here and there, on the game-winning drive. The final completion during the stretch, which came after Badia was sacked by Chris Murphy for a 5-yard loss, was a 13-yard hookup with Patrone on fourth-and-11 and moved the leather to the Crusaders' 18. Bellaire used its last timeout with 27.3 seconds left, and set up its final strategy.
After back-to-back incompletions, Badia found Tyler West on a slant for 14 stripes to the Steubenville Central four. Badia quickly spiked the ball to stop the clock with 4.3 seconds showing and setup the game-winning toss to Patrone.
"It was the last play of the game, no matter what happened," Davis recalled. "It was a great read on Spencer's part and a nice catch by Nick."
Davis said he had no problem yelling at the pair.
"They know what we expect of them. They stepped up in the second half when we needed it."
Badia finished an incredible 38-of-62 for 417 yards, four touchdowns and three picks. He passed for 507 yards in a 63-27 victory last season.
Patrone landed an eye-popping 15 passes for 174 yards and the game-winning TD catch. The Big Reds also eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground as Logan Koshenka, who was a leader on defense as well, picked up 57 yards on five carries and scored a six-pointer.
Brenton Colabella passed for 258 yards and four TDs on 14-of-26. Maslowski, a state high hurdle runnerup, ran for a game-high 185 stripes on 19 carries. Zach Herrington had seven catches for 152 yards and two scores.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org