Bellaire bounces back at Buckeye

YORKVILLE — Bellaire’s offensive numbers weren’t exactly eye-popping Friday night.

They didn’t have to be.

The Big Reds’ defense did the job, forcing five first-half turnovers — all leading to scores — as Bellaire trounced Buckeye Local, 49-14, in a Buckeye 8 tussle at muggy World War II Memorial Stadium.

Bellaire head coach Mark Spigarelli said earlier this week he wanted his team to get back to basic Big Reds football. And, it quickly did, scoring six first-half touchdowns thanks to three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a blocked punt.

”I think the guys came out hungry, which was great,” he said. ”That’s what I wanted to see.

”I told them before the game, and all week, that we had to come out angry and ticked off. I was still mad about last week’s game (a 38-20 loss at John Marshall) and I think the guys were, too.”

Bellaire (3-2) amassed 312 yards of offense, but it was Spigarelli’s defense that set the tone, picking off the Panthers’ first two pass attempts.

The first was returned 71 yards by Cole LaRoche for a score, and the second, by Gabe Rejonis, set up an 11-play, 61-yard march that ate up most of the first-quarter clock.

The biggest play on the drive was a 22-yard pass from Mason Ramsay to Rejonis, but Bellaire’s rushing attack keyed the effort, with Duffy (15 yards) and Trace Sechrest (20 yards) shouldering the load.

Ramsay capped things which his 1-yard plunge. The second of his six extra-point boots made the score 14-0.

After the Panthers (0-5) threw another interception on their ensuing drive, Spigarelli turned the rushing duties over to Cole Porter. Porter carried the ball each play on the three-play, 33-yard drive that culminated in his 12-yard jaunt that helped make the score 21-0 with nine ticks left in the first quarter.

The Big Reds went up 28-0 moments later when Duffy snared a Buckeye Local fumble and returned it 76 yards for a TD.

Later, Panther quarterback Seth Richardson hit Josh Dulesky over the middle for 17 yards, but the ball squirted out and Bellaire recovered. Four plays later, Ramsay, who finished with just 93 yards passing on only six attempts, hit A.J. McCarthy with a 28-yard strike for another score.

A blocked punt deep in Buckeye Local territory in the last minute of the first half gave the Big Reds another opportunity. They took advantage as Ramsay went left uncontested for a 14-yard score.

Ramsay scored on all three of runs.

”That last one was a bootleg,” Spigarelli said, and we really need to get that in our offense.”

While the Panthers, who visit John Marshall next Friday, moved the ball well, at times, in the first half, turnovers popped up at inopportune moments.

”We just feel snakebitten,” first-year Buckeye Local head coach Roger Herbert said. ”But, I say, you create your own luck. It’s up to us to fix that.

”I thought we threw the ball better overall, blocked better. We had some positives. We just need to eliminate some of the big negatives.”

The Panthers got on the board in the second half with two explosive plays — a 70-yard burst down the visitor’s sideline by Marelli, who finished with a game-high 93 yards rushing, and a 45-yard jaunt by Charles Smith.

Bellaire racked up 219 yards rushing, paced by Duffy’s 56. Spigarelli said he’ll need continued contributions from many the rest of the season as the Big Reds enter the meatgrinder portion of its schedule. Starting with next Saturday’s Homecoming tussle vs. Beaver Local, the Big Reds’ final five opponents currently boast a combined record of 19-6.

”We have four of last five at home,” Spigarelli said. ”It’s great to be home. We’ll be back practicing on our new turf practice field this week. There’s a lot of excitement.

”But, like I told the guys after the game, we have to take it one game at a time. We have to take care of ourselves first.”