Steubenville CC outlasts Bellaire

BELLAIRE – Whenever Steubenville Central and Bellaire get together on the football field, you don’t know what to expect.

Last fall, the visiting Big Reds staged a dramatic 25-point rally in the second half to nip the Crusaders on the final play of the season-opener at Harding Stadium, 44-42.

Saturday afternoon at sun-splattered Nelson Field, Steubenville Central returned the favor as it tallied the final 34 points in a 55-35 thumping of the mistake-prone Big Reds.

Bellaire led 35-21 with 5:35 left in the third quarter after Tyler West bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out. Cody LaRoche’s PAT was perfect.

“We had a chance to put them away. When you’ve got the knife to the throat, you’ve got to take advantage of it. Right?” a dejected Bellaire head coach Jose Davis said. “When you don’t do that to a good team, there’s always the chance that they can come back.”

Steubenville Central scored three plays after West’s short touchdown run as fleet-footed Khalil Jones skirted around right end and outran everyone down the near sidelines for a 59-yard scoring jaunt. Storm Romano’s placement made it 35-28 with 4:18 on the third-quarter clock.

The Big Reds picked up one first down on the ensuing possession, but the drive stalled and they were forced to punt.

Jones muffed the kick, but quickly recovered to save the Crusaders from potential danger. Eleven plays later, Ryan Fletcher walked into the end zone from a yard away to complete an 85-yard march. Romano tied the game with his extra-point at the 10:09 mark of the final stanza.

Keying the drive was a 31-yard hookup between veteran quarterback Brenton Colabella to Chris Murphy that moved the ball near the Big Reds’ 10.

On the ensuing kickoff, Colabella’s boot hit near the Bellaire 30 and bounced away from the nearest Big Reds’ player. Steubenville Central’s Aleks Porreca alertly pounced on it, giving the Crusaders all the momentum.

It also marked the second time in the game that that happened to the Big Reds. The Crusaders also recovered a kickoff in the first quarter that immediately led to another six-pointer.

This time, it only took the Jefferson County squad one play to reach the promised land. Fletcher, a hard-running senior, took a handoff and went into the center of the line where it appeared as though he had been stopped. However, he kept his legs churning and broke outside where it was all green grass ahead en route to a 30-yard scamper. Romano made it 42-35 as the clock showed 9:54.

“That can’t happen in high school football,” Davis said of the two muffed kickoffs. “We had three other fumbles, and you can’t have that many and expect to win.”

Bellaire was moving the ball down the field as Badia found West for a 28-yard hookup, but the ball popped loose as Jones fell on it at the Crusaders’ 49.

Two plays later, Fletcher found running room off the left side and was gone. The 47-yard scamper came on the second play of the short drive. That marked the fourth two-play scoring drive in the game for the Blue-Gold-and-White. Romano’s kick bumped the margin to 49-35.

A two-yard run by Jones capped the scoring.

Colabella and Porreca teamed on a 41-yard strike to get the scoring started two plays into the game. The senior quarterback rolled to his left and lobbed a short pass to Porreca along the near sidelines. He zig-zagged his way to paydirt.

Bellaire answered with a 1-yard plunge by West on its initial possession, but Steubenville Central used back-to-back six-pointers in 47 seconds to take a 21-7 lead after one quarter. Romano ran in from 11 yards out and also landed a 10-yard scoring pass from Colabella.

West rambled 55 yards for six points and Badia hit Brendon Ross on a quick slant for a 2-yard touchdown. Cody LaRoche’s two point-afters made it 21-all at the half.

Kenny Hess hauled in a 5-yard scoring pass from Badia early in the third period as Bellaire re-took the lead, 28-21. Badia lofted the ball to the right corner of the end zone, and Hess made a nice adjustment on the ball.

After an exchange of turnovers, Bellaire took over following a beautiful juggling interception by Hess, which led to West’s touchdown and the seemingly comfortable 35-21 lead.

The Crusaders finished with 258 yards and six touchdowns via the ground, with 197 stripes and five TDs coming in the second half. Colabella was 11 of 18 for 143 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of picks.

Bellaire amassed 299 yards of total offense, but only 96 (2 rushing) after the halftime break. Badia was 22-for-36 for 192 yards. He also tossed two TDs and an interception. West led the ground game with 99 yards on half-a-dozen carries. he had a 55-yard TD run in the second quarter that gave the Big reds a 21-14 lead. Kenny Hess and Brendon Ross evenly divided 10 receptions, while Nick Patrone caught four passes for a team-best 67 yards.

“We told the kids it’s only one game,” Davis allowed. “The season isn’t made or lost in the first game. There’s a lot of football left to play.”

The Big Reds travel across the Ohio River to Moundsville Friday night for John Marshall’s season-opener.

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