Bellaire rolls into D-V third round with 35-6 victory over Lutheran East
Heatherington tosses 3 TD passes
BELLAIRE — For the first time in nearly a decade-and-a-half, Bellaire has won a home playoff game.
With Saturday afternoon’s 35-6 domination of visiting Cleveland Heights Lutheran East at sun-soaked Nelson Field, the fifth-seeded Big Reds advanced to the Division V, Region 17 quarterfinals this coming Saturday against No. 4 Garaway, which routed Crestwood, 48-14, Saturday night.
“That’s probably the first home playoff win in 15-20 years. “Hats off to the players and the coaching staff. They did a good job,” Bellaire head coach Mark Spigarelli said. “We didn’t play last week because of the bye and we used it very well. It helped us out a lot in healing up some guys and the guys worked really hard.
“That’s a great football team there. They just beat one heckuva team last week in Burton Berkshire,” Spigarelli said of the Falcons (2-6) who won 58-35 a week ago. “Now we get to move on and play Garaway. We’ll be ready to go.”
The victory was the first at Nelson Field in the postseason since a 49-21 nod over St. Clairsville back in 2006 when Bellaire (5-2) made it to the D-IV state semifinals before losing to eventual champion Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. Saturday’s contest was the fifth playoff game at Nelson Field.
The Big Reds didn’t waste any time in asserting themselves. Taking the opening kickoff, the hosts marched 61 yards on 9 plays with quarterback Jake Heatherington finding wideout Jayce Gallaher on a 13-yard scoring pass on 4th-and-11. Heatherington lasered a strike to Gallaher on the quick slant left. Lucas Littell connected on the first of his five PAT kicks and it was quickly 7-0.
Luke Farmer met Lutheran East quarterback Osei Mattocks and tailback Rayshon Kennedy in the backfield, forcing a fumble the junior recovered at the Falcons’ 28.
Half-a-dozen plays later, Colt Sechrest bulled in from the 1 as the margin grew to 13-0. Littell made it 14-0 as 6:30 remained in the opening quarter.
Gallaher recorded the first of his three interceptions deep in Big Reds territory at the 10 to snuff out a Lutheran East scoring chance. Bellaire capitalized again.
Heatherington found tailback Joey Lewis in the right flat and the 5-9, 150-pounder powered his way past two defenders and into the end zone in completing a 9-yard scoring connection. The drive used 13 plays and covered 90 yards while spanning the first and second quarters. It chewed up 5 minutes of clock.
The defense set the offense up again as Jaren Cash picked off a pass and returned it to the Falcons’ 29. Four plays later, Heatherington and Lewis teamed up for a 9-yard scoring play. Littell made it 28-0 with 3:08 left before the half.
Faced with a 4th-and-18 from its 22, Lutheran East tried a fake punt, but the result left it a few yards shy of the first-down stick.
Two plays later, Heatherington lobbed the ball into the right corner of the end zone where Ray’shad Pettigrew made a juggling catch for six points. Littell made it 35-0 with 78 seconds on the clock.
Heatherington completed 9 of 16 attempts for 132 yards and three scores. He found seven different receivers with Pettigrew making two catches for 39 yards and Lewis grabbing two. Heatherington has now tossed 13 TDs without an interception this season. Lewis also added 73 stripes on 18 carries.
“Injury-wise we got a few guys banged up. Hopefully we can get them back on the field for next week,” Spigarelli noted.
One most likely, the other probably not.
Sechrest was hobbled by a right ankle injury and didn’t play in the second half after picking up 92 yards and scoring a 1-yard touchdown on 13 carries. Brandon Mamie was injured on the first offensive play of the game. He was running a pass pattern when his left knee buckled and he went down before being helped off the field.