Bellaire blanked by Newark Catholic in Division VI, 29-0

NEWARK – For the Bellaire Big Reds, It just wasn’t meant to be Friday night.

A 15-yard personal foul penalty on the opening kickoff set the tone as the the Big Reds (7-4) were blanked 29-0 by homestanding Newark Catholic (10-1) in a Division VI, Region 21 quarterfinal at a chilly White Field.

Bellaire, which failed to score in the final seven quarters of the season after averaging a little more than 32 for the season, could only amass 138 yards of total offense. The Big Reds were denied twice inside the Newark Catholic 20, while the Irish piled up 418 total yards, including a whopping 355 on the ground.

“When you get inside the red zone, you’ve got to put points on the board, and we didn’t do that tonight,” a disappointed Bellaire head coach Jose Davis said after watching his team get bounced in the first round for the second straight season. “I just don’t know.”

Newark Catholic, the reigning Division VI state runnersup, took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field. Three third-down conversions keyed the drive, while a fourth-and-inches drew Bellaire offsides. Senior quarterback Chayce Crouch, a 6-4, 222-pound University of Illinois recruit, completed the 13-play, 62-yard drive with a 2-yard run. Sam Bell’s placement made it 7-0 with 6:19 on the clock.

Brandon Laughman broke off a 31-yard run on Bellaire’s first offensive snap, but that would be the extent of the Big Reds’ running game as Laughman finished with 60 stripes on 16 carries.

“We just couldn’t sustain any offensive movement,” Davis continued. “When you get this far, you have to be able to execute, and we weren’t able to do that.”

It appeared as though the Green Wave were headed for another score on their next possession, but Bellaire’s Dom Vinka came up with a huge play on fourth-and-three to give the Big Reds the ball back.

However, once again the offense was stymied by a holding call on first down.

“You just don’t have plays for second-and-19 or third-and-20,” Davis explained. “We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Crouch capped a 9-play, 67-yard march with a 4-yard quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches. Bell’s PAT was wide left, making it 13-0 with 7:53 left before the half.

After an exchange of punts, Bellaire seemed to be in good field position at the midfield stripe at a nifty return by Nick Patrone, but a blocking in the back infraction set the Big Reds back 10 yards from the spot of the foul, which moved the ball back to the Bellaire 28.

The Big Reds reached the Green Wave 35 before Laughman was hauled down for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-1 by Joe Davis and Blake Baker.

Newark Catholic got on the board once again before the half ended as Bellaire quarterback Spencer Badia was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which resulted in a safety and a 15-0 advantage at the half.

Bellaire, which won the opening coin toss but deferred until the second half, took the third-quarter kickoff and marched to the Green Wave 9, but Laughman was caught for a 2-yard loss on third down and Badia’s fourth-down pass was pilfered by Newark Catholic defensive end Spencer Chapman, who returned it to the Green Wave 22.

“We just couldn’t come up with the big play when we needed it,” Davis lamented.

With the swing in momentum, Newark Catholic went 78 yards on nine plays as senior tailback Anthony Wing picked up 59 of the yards. Sophomore fullback Wes Jurden bulled in from a yard out to cap the drive. Bell’s placement was good as the margin ballooned to 22-0.

After a Tyler West 51-yard kickoff return, Bellaire got to the Newark Catholic 1 before the drive sputtered and Badia’s fourth-down pass to Kenny Hess was caught after being tipped at the line of scrimmage for a 2-yard loss.

Jurden capped the scoring with a 56-yard jaunt and Bell’s extra-point made it 29-0.

The Green Wave executed an onside kick that didn’t sit well with the Big Reds as tempers flared for most of the remainder of the game, with the officials calling timeout to cool both sides down.

“That was a great team win,” Newark Catholic head coach Bill Franks said. “Our offense did a good job, but so did our defense.”

Wing led Newark Catholic with 165 yards on the ground, while Jurden added 134.

Badia completed half of his two dozen attempts for a season-low 85 yards and the one pick. He finished his stellar career with 8,079 career total yards of offense. Patrone and Hunter Westlake each had three receptions.

“Yes, I’m disappointed with the loss,” Davis acknowledged. “But these kids were 1-2 at one point in the season. They could’ve quit right there and then, but they didn’t and ran off six straight wins, so I’m proud of them.

“We won the OVAC Class 3A and shared the Buckeye 8 title, so it was a good season.”

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