Bellaire takes care of Toronto to get to 4-0

TORONTO — A poor showing on offense can really hurt a defense.

Toronto struggled to move the ball most of the night against Bellaire’s stifling defense, forcing the Red Knights’ defense to stay on the field quite a bit. In the end, the Big Reds were able to wear down Toronto, as it recorded three touchdowns in the second half to pull away for a 25-6 victory Friday night on Clarke Hinkle Field.

The Big Reds limited the Red Knights to 193 yards of offense on 53 plays. Bellaire’s defense also intercepted five Toronto passes.

“Their defense is pretty good,” Toronto (1-3) head coach Josh Franke said. “Obviously, we had some self-inflicted wounds. We had too many penalties and too many turnovers. When you play against a good defense like that, you cannot have that. Part of that is on me. There are a few play calls I wish I had back. I would have done things differently. We some things we have to clean up.”

“I like our character,” Bellaire (4-0) head coach Mark Spigarelli said. “I said that last week.”

Neither team did much offensively in the first half. The visitors totaled 110 yards on 25 plays, while the hosts had 77 yards on 23 plays. The Red Knights threw three interceptions — the last one proving to be really costly, as it set up the first score of the game.

Bellaire’s offense ended up scoring three touchdowns in the second half, while Toronto was only able to muster one.

Rayshad Pettigrew produced a big game for the Big Reds. He recorded three catches for 92 yards and three touchdowns on offense, while also intercepting a pass on defense.

Pettigrew put the Big Reds on the scoreboard late in the second quarter when he hauled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jake Heatherington to give Bellaire a 6-0 lead with just 22 seconds remaining in the first half. B.J. Pearson blocked the extra point, keeping Toronto’s deficit at 6-0 heading into halftime.

“Toronto is a great team,” Spigarelli said. “They play hard. They play tough. They play physical. We just made enough plays in the passing game for the first time all season.”

The Big Reds scored first in the third quarter. Colt Sechrest capped a 78-yard drive with a 2-yard run, giving the victors a 12-0 lead with 5:49 left in the quarter. JoJo Savage intercepted the 2-point conversion.

Toronto answered with a scoring march of its own, as the Red Knights drove 65 yards for a touchdown. Garrett Dozier capped off the march with a 3-yard run to make the score 12-6, but the extra point was no good, keeping the score 12-6 with 2:48 left in the third.

“Our defense played great, but sooner or later when you are out on the field for so long you are going to wear down,” Franke said. “We have to do a better job on offense. That’s on me. I have to do a better job with the offense.”

Pettigrew produced a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

First, he hauled in a 62-yard strike from Heatherington to make it 18-6, but once again the 2-point conversion attempt failed with 9:48 left to play.

Then, Pettigrew capped the scoring with a 13-yard score from Heatherington to make it 24-6, and this time Levi Littell’s extra point split the uprights make it 25-6 with 4:11 still showing on the clock.

“He had quite the day,” Spigarelli said about Pettigrew. “He got down on himself early. He let a kid get behind him. It didn’t end up hurting us. He was down, and he was pouting. I just told him to forget about it and to keep playing. That is something I learned from Roger Waialae at West Liberty. You just have to keep playing. He did that tonight.”

Heatherington completed 7 of 15 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns on the night. On the ground, Sechrest tallied 55 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, while Brandon Mamie delivered 56 yards on 11 carries.

“We scrimmaged them last year,” Franke said. “We knew they were going to run the 1-formation and run the ball downhill. We knew they had some athletes at receiver who they wanted to get the ball to. They did nothing that surprised us. When you have a roster of 29 and they have a roster of 60 it is only a matter of time before you get tired.”

Dozier led the way offensively for the Red Knights with 94 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Quarterback Caleb Leasure completed 6 of 19 passes for 57 yards. Brant Reeves recorded two receptions for 50 yards.

“Defensively, we had five picks,” Spigarelli said. “That is not something we have had all season. Hats off to our coaching staff. They have done a super job all year.”


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