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Bellaire cruises past Cambridge to get to 5-0

T-L Photo/KIM NORTH BELLAIRE RUNNING back Brayden Roth lunges toward the goal line with the first Big Reds touchdown of the game on Saturday. He scored another and the Big Reds rolled to a 45-14 victory against Cambridge at Nelson Field.

BELLAIRE — When the Bellaire Big Reds get even an ounce of momentum, they’ve been able to take full advantage.

It occurred that way once again Saturday afternoon on sun-baked Nelson Field.

With the Big Reds trailing by a 14-13 score, they had Cambridge with a fourth-and-six on its own 27. The Bobcats rolled the dice and had a player wide open, but the ball was dropped.

Seven plays later, junior quarterback Jake Heatherington plunged into the end zone from a yard out and the Big Reds never looked back en route to a convincing 45-13 victory to improve to 5-0.

“If they catch (the pass), it’s a first down,” Bellaire head coach Mark Spigarelli said. “They caught us a little bit because we have to get guys over there to cover, but hats off to our defense, which played super as they have all season. We really seemed to gain some momentum from there.”

Indeed.

The Big Reds actually scored the final 38 points of the game and did so in a bevy of ways, too. They rushed for four touchdowns, threw for one and defensive back Khalil Kimbro picked off a pair of Bobcat passes and returned them for pick-sixes.

“The kids never got rattled when Cambridge went up on us,” Spigarelli said. “Hats off to these kids who did a super job all week. We had a hard-fought game last week against Wheeling Central. Some other things transpired in that game that I didn’t really talk about, and the kids put behind them. They just played and did they jobs.”

While the outcome certainly didn’t boil down to the aforementioned decision on fourth down, that play along with four turnovers were simply too much for the Bobcats, who drop to 3-2 with the setback, to overcome.

“If we execute that (fourth down play), it looks great, but since we didn’t, it looks bad,” Cambridge head coach Ray Leek said. “I trust our kids and still do. This wasn’t our best performance. The turnovers were killers. They kill momentum and you win the turnover battle, you usually win the game. Hats off to Bellaire and their staff and players. They deserve credit, too.”

The Big Reds moved the ball up and down the field most of the afternoon. They accumulated 398 yards, including a season-high 225 yards through the air. Heatherington actually threw the ball on 18 of the Big Reds’ first 21 plays. He finished 16 of 25 for 225 yards. His interception was raced back for the Bobcats touchdown, but he found senior Colt Sechrest on a 69-yard touchdown early in the third quarter.

“I saw (Cambridge) was playing a different defense than did last year and we wanted to give (the empty set) more of a shot because we thought it might catch them off guard,” Spigarelli said. “It did at the beginning, but then we threw the pick six, which was my fault, and we kind of went away from it.”

On the defensive side, the Big Reds were up to their same old tricks. With Sechrest roaming in the middle, Luke Farmer and company bringing the heat from the defensive line and Ray Ray Pettigrew and Kimbro lurking in the secondary, Bellaire limited the Bobcats to 163 total yards and only 10 first downs.

Kimbro had a 53-yard interception return to end the first half and then was the beneficiary of a tipped pass and took it back 9 yards for a touchdown. Pettigrew, who caught five passes for 51 yards, delivered one of the most physical and legal hits of the season where he unloaded on a Bobcats receiver, knocking his helmet off. Sechrest and Jaren Cash also had an interception, while Farmer posted a couple of sacks.

Junior running back Brayden Roth scored the first two Bellaire touchdowns of the game from five and four yards out. Back-up running back Drew White capped the scoring with a 1-yard burst.

Bellaire is scheduled to go on the road to Wintersville to take on Indian Creek, but the Redskins canceled their game at St. Clairsville on Friday, due to COVID-19 issues.

“I told the kids to come ready to practice all week because, as of (Saturday), the game is on as scheduled,” Spigarelli said. “I hope we get to play them. We have a lot of tough games coming up in the second half of the season.”

Cambridge will look to right its ship when it returns to Belmont County to take on Martins Ferry.

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