By RICK DeLUCA
Times Leader Sports Writer
YORKVILLE - Anyone who thinks that Bellaire is just a passing team, you might want to re-think that theory.
BELLAIRE’S Hunter Westlake tries to avoid Buckeye Local’s Brandon Panepucci (9)
during the first quarter of Friday’s game in Yorkville. The Big Reds rolled to a 43-6 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleader-online.com
Senior quarterback Spencer Badia threw for two scores, but it was the ground game that put a trio of six-pointers on the board and special teams that added another as the Big Reds notched their third win of the season with a 43-6 decision over Buckeye Local on the Panther turf at Memorial Stadium Friday night.
With the win, Jose Davis' Big Reds improved to 3-2 at the midway point of the regular season and hit the road next week traveling to Wintersville to square off with Indian Creek.
Coach Phil Pest's Panthers continued their struggles, falling to 0-5 on the season. Buckeye is on the road Friday traveling to Richmond in hopes of gabbing its first win when it faces Edison.
"When we looked at the films of their last two games and how they played at Indian Creek, we weren't expecting this," Big Reds coach Davis said after the win. "It seemed that whenever they turned the ball over it was inside the red zone, so they had to be doing something right to get there."
"But my hats to our kids," he added. "They came ready to play and played very well."
"A lot of people look at us and think the all we do is pass the ball and that we are passing 50-60 times a game, but we don't. We try to be 60-40. This is the second straight game that we ran the ball more than we passed it."
Davis showed a lot of class early on, by pulling his starters early and staying strictly on the ground.
"We've been there ourselves before and I know how it feels when you see how teams will react," Davis noted. "We just tried to show more class than some of them showed us."
"It's going to be a long road for us," Pest said after the setback. "They have a lot of speed, we didn't tackle well sand their quarterback is probably the best in the valley. Jose showed a lot of class out there."
"We just have to try to get better," the Panther coach added. "Just try to stay the course, talk them up and remain positive. We're not going to quit on them."
Bellaire wasted very little time getting on the scoreboard after taking possession on the Buckeye 49 at the 10:50 mark. Badia opened with a 12-yard pass to Tyler West and on the next play Hunter Westlake broke off tackle and rambled 37 yards to the score with 10:11 showing. The PAT missed as they led 6-0.
Following Buckeye's second punt and Brendon Ross's 20-yard return, the Big Reds needed just three more plays to add to their lead. After Badia's 14-yard toss to Kenny Hess, Westlake ran in from the eight with 7:54 on the clock. Cody LaRoche added the PAT for 13-0 lead.
A very short Panther punt set the stage for Bellaire's third score as Badia capped short drive with seven-yard pass to Nick Patrone with 4:06 left in the first. LaRoche added the PAT.
Patrone intercepted a Buckeye pass with 3:16 on the clock and Badia followed that with a 38-yarder to Ross and then a 10-yard toss to Westlake for the score with 2:35 left. LaRoche again added the PAT for a 27-0 lead.
Bellaire's next score took a bit more work as the Big Reds stuck primarily on the ground and put together a 58-yard, nine-play drive that was capped off by a one-yard run by West with 9:05 on the clock. LaRoche added the PAT.
With 1:40 on the first half clock, LaRoche converted a 25-yard field goal and a 37-0 lead.
Bellaire closed out its scoring at the start of the third on freshman Ty Taylor's electrifying 85-yard kickoff return. The Big Reds conceded the conversion.
Buckeye's lone score came with 11:50 on the fourth quarter clock as Chase Hopkins tossed a seven-yard scoring pass to Logan Dehnart.